Ceasefire talks between Hamas and Israel are on track, officials say

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Talks to reach a cease-fire in the war between Hamas and Israel in Gaza appear to be on track, with a deal on target before Ramadan.

Hopes for a ceasefire are high even after Thursday's incident, in which hundreds of people were killed and hundreds more injured while waiting for aid in Gaza.

US officials said on Friday that there were no indications that the discussions had been affected by the latest incident, although they said much depended on an expected response from Hamas that the negotiations could be affected by the killing of Palestinian citizens.

Shortly after the deaths of dozens of Palestinian civilians in Gaza on Thursday, US officials said the chaotic scenes called for increased urgency in hostage and ceasefire talks.

President Joe Biden called for an "immediate ceasefire" Friday afternoon.

"We are trying to reach an agreement between Israel and Hamas for the return of the hostages and an immediate ceasefire in Gaza for at least the next six weeks, and to allow for increased aid to the Gaza Strip," Biden said during a meeting. with the Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni in Washington.

A senior administration official said earlier on Friday that the US is still trying to reach a deal by Ramadan - now only about a week away.

Those involved in the discussions have said a deal is likely to be implemented in multiple phases and once an initial deal is reached, it could lead to a ceasefire lasting up to six weeks with a group of Israeli hostages - including women - released. , children, elderly and sick hostages – in exchange for a smaller number of Palestinian prisoners than Hamas had originally demanded.

During a ceasefire, negotiations will take place on more sensitive topics such as the release of Israeli soldiers held hostage, Palestinian prisoners serving longer sentences, the withdrawal of Israeli forces and bringing about a permanent end to the war.