Israel-Gaza updates: Israel says it agrees to cease-fire, hostage release

Israel is still pushing forward with plans to enter Rafah.

More than four months since Hamas terrorists invaded Israel on Oct. 7, the Israeli military continues its bombardment of the neighboring Gaza Strip.

The conflict, now the deadliest between the warring sides since Israel's founding in 1948, shows no signs of letting up soon and the brief cease-fire that allowed for over 100 hostages to be freed from Gaza remains a distant memory.

Click here for updates from previous days.


What we know about the conflict

The latest outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that governs the Gaza Strip, has passed the four-month mark.

In the Gaza Strip, at least 30,228 people have been killed and 71,377 others have been wounded by Israeli forces since Oct. 7, according to Gaza's Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health.

In Israel, at least 1,200 people have been killed and 6,900 others have been injured by Hamas and other Palestinian militants since Oct. 7, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

There has also been a surge in violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Israeli forces have killed at least 395 people in the territory since Oct. 7, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

The ongoing war began after Hamas-led militants launched an unprecedented incursion into southern Israel from neighboring Gaza via land, sea and air. Scores of people were killed while more than 200 others were taken hostage, according to Israeli authorities. The Israeli military subsequently launched retaliatory airstrikes followed by a ground invasion of Gaza, a 140-square-mile territory where more than 2 million Palestinians have lived under a blockade imposed by Israel and supported by Egypt since Hamas came to power in 2007. Gaza, unlike Israel, has no air raid sirens or bomb shelters.


IDF presents war cabinet with plan to evacuate Gazans from 'areas of fighting'

The Israel Defense Forces has presented Israel's war cabinet with a "plan for evacuating the population from the areas of fighting in the Gaza Strip," a release from the prime minister's office said early Monday local time.

"In addition, the plan for providing humanitarian assistance to the Gaza Strip in a manner that will prevent the looting that has occurred in the northern Strip and other areas was approved," the statement added.

Editor's Note: This post has been updated to reflect that the IDF presented the plan, not the prime minister's office, as originally reported.


Israel agrees to updated framework in cease-fire, hostage deal

Israel has agreed to an updated framework that would establish a six-week cease-fire in Gaza in exchange for the release of 40 hostages, an Israeli source told ABC News. The development follows talks in Paris, which includes officials from the U.S., Israel, Qatar and Egypt.

While Israel says it's waiting to hear back from Hamas on whether it will accept the updated language from this weekend's talks, Israel is pushing forward with plans to enter Rafah. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted on X that operational plans and evacuation plans in Rafah are ready to be approved by his cabinet.

As part of the proposed deal, Israel has agreed to release jailed Palestinians at a higher ratio than the previous deal, which was 3 to 1. Up to 400 Palestinian prisoners could be released in this new deal.

The Israel Defense Forces will redeploy but not withdraw from Gaza.

-ABC News' Marcus Moore


Blinken calls Israeli settlement expansion 'inconsistent with international law'

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is signaling a possible shift back to a long-standing U.S. policy rejecting Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank, calling it "inconsistent with international law."

Asked at a press availability in Argentina for his response to Israel’s purported plans to build thousands of new settlement homes in the area, Blinken responded, "We’ve seen the reports, and I have to say we’re disappointed in the announcement."

"It's been long-standing U.S. policy under Republican and Democratic administration alike that new settlements are counterproductive to reaching an enduring peace. They're also inconsistent with international law," Blinken said. "Our administration maintains firm opposition to settlement expansion, and in our judgment, this only weakens -- doesn't strengthen -- Israel security."

The Biden administration has condemned Israeli expansion in the West Bank for years, but the State Department had not yet gone so far as to say they ran afoul of international law after Blinken’s predecessor, Mike Pompeo, said in 2019 that the U.S. would no longer view Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Golan Heights and East Jerusalem as violations.

But before delivering his rebuke, Blinken made note of what he called a "horrific terrorist attack" on a Jewish settlement in the West Bank this week and said the U.S. would continue to support Israel’s right to defend itself and its people.

-ABC News’ Shannon Crawford



CIA director heads to Europe for more negotiations over hostages in Gaza

CIA Director Bill Burns will head to Europe on Friday for another round of Gaza hostage negotiations as the parties seek to reach a deal before the Ramadan holiday begins, according to two U.S. officials.

One Israeli official said U.S. negotiators have been pressuring Israel to strike an agreement before the holiday due in part to the administration's goal to see Saudi Arabia normalize relations with the country.

Two U.S. officials told ABC News there has been incremental progress in recent days, and that they did not see Ramadan as a hard deadline but anticipated it would be difficult to press on with negotiations during the holiday because much of Hamas' operations will likely shut down on March 11, making it even harder to continue indirect communication with the group's officials than it already is.

The White House's envoy for the Middle East, Brett McGurk, held talks throughout the day Thursday with Israeli leaders.

Following his discussion with McGurk, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said in a statement that Israel will now "expand the authority given to our hostage negotiators."

Late Thursday, the Israeli War Cabinet approved the decision to send negotiators to Paris to participate in the upcoming round of talks.

-ABC News' Shannon Crawford and Dana Savir


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