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CIA director makes secret visit to Israel for Gaza talks

February 15, 2024 at 7:20 pm

CIA Director William Burns on September 20, 2023 in Washington, DC [Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images]

CIA Director William Burns arrived in Israel on Thursday for an unannounced visit for talks with top Israeli officials, according to local media, Anadolu reports.

Burns met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mossad chief David Barnea following his arrival, Israeli Channel 12 reported.

The reason for the visit was not yet clear, but Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper said it was linked to Netanyahu’s refusal to send a security delegation to Egypt to continue talks for a hostage swap deal with Hamas.

There was no comment yet from Netanyahu’s office on the report.

Officials from Israel, Egypt, Qatar and the US held a meeting in Cairo on Tuesday to discuss a Gaza cease-fire and hostage-prisoner swap between Hamas and Israel.

Last week, Hamas proposed a three-stage plan for a Gaza cease-fire that includes a 135-day pause in the fighting in return for the release of hostages, according to a Palestinian source.

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Netanyahu, however, rejected Hamas’ offer for a cease-fire and vowed to continue his Gaza war until a “crushing victory” over the Palestinian group.

Israel believes that 134 Israelis are being held in Gaza after the Israeli army managed on Monday to free two hostages in Rafah city in the southern Gaza Strip.

Israel has pounded the Gaza Strip since an Oct. 7 Hamas attack, killing at least 28,663 and causing mass destruction and shortages of necessities. Nearly 1,200 Israelis are believed to have been killed in the Hamas attack.

The Israeli war on Gaza has pushed 85% of the territory’s population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60% of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice, which in an interim ruling in January ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

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