Israel presents a cease-fire plan

  • By Lipika Pelham & Paul Adams
  • BBC News

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Riot police on horseback clash with anti-government protesters in Tel Aviv

Israel's war cabinet was briefed on negotiations for a cease-fire deal in Gaza after talks in Paris reported progress on Saturday.

It comes after police broke up a protest in Tel Aviv calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

As the demonstrators tried to move to Democracy Square, riot police charged at those on horseback.

The Paris talks are part of negotiations aimed at a ceasefire and the return of hostages.

The deal will also see the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.

On Saturday evening, the Israeli War Cabinet was briefed on the negotiations in Paris with mediators from Egypt, Qatar and the United States.

“We are working to get another outline for the release of our hostages,” Mr Netanyahu wrote in X.

“That's why I sent a delegation to Paris – tonight we'll discuss the next steps in the negotiations.”

Later, it was reported that Israel would send a delegation to Qatar this week for further talks.

Anti-government protests were relatively frequent in Israel before the October 7 Hamas attacks on Israel – a trend that goes back more than a year of demonstrators' hatred of Mr Netanyahu and his hard-line cabinet.

But Saturday's unrest marked the first time in October that drastic measures had been taken.

The demonstrators have been fueled by the war in Gaza – and fears that their government is more concerned with defeating Hamas than freeing hostages.

The Justice Ministry has launched an investigation into an incident – seen on widely circulated video – where an officer used his horse's reins to attack a protester as he fell to the ground clutching his head.

Yair Lapid, the main opposition leader, criticized the police for aggressively handling demonstrators gathered outside the headquarters of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

The right to protest cannot be taken away from the protestors by batons and water cannons.

At least 21 arrests and dozens of injuries were reported.

In an anti-government demonstration, families of Israeli hostages gathered in the city to call for a diplomatic solution to the war and a focus on their return.

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The protesters fled as the police used water cannons to disperse the crowd

Earlier on Saturday, Israeli media reported progress in talks in Paris on hostages and a ceasefire agreement.

Israel's spy chief, David Barnea, met with mediators from Egypt, Qatar and the United States in the French capital on Saturday.

They reportedly agreed on a deal to form the basis for further negotiations that was presented to the Israeli war cabinet on Saturday night.

Israeli media report that the War Cabinet has agreed to send negotiations to Qatar for a week-long cease-fire and hostage-release deal in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israel.

But Israeli national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi said in a televised interview on Saturday evening: “Such an agreement does not mean the end of war.”

A senior Palestinian official familiar with the talks previously told the BBC that no real progress had been made in Paris and that negotiators had leaked false information to increase pressure on Hamas.

Hamas also did not comment on recent reports of progress in reaching a deal.

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Displaced Palestinian children wait to receive food at a donation point in Rafah

Meanwhile, fighting and airstrikes in Gaza continue to claim lives.

In his post on X, Mr Netanyahu said he would convene his cabinet this week and approve plans for an operation in Rafah, in Gaza's far south. Israeli airstrikes are already making aid operations more difficult.

Aid agencies and many Western governments have warned that the consequences of an attack on Rafah could be dire.

UNRWA – United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees The agency has suspended aid deliveries to northern Gaza because convoys are being looted by desperate residents. On February 5, one of its trucks was hit by Israeli fire.

The UN has warned of a growing risk of famine in Gaza, with footage of Gazans queuing for food in desperate conditions in the northern town of Jabaliya widely circulated.

A two-month-old Palestinian boy died of starvation at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City on Friday, local media reported.

The Hamas-run health ministry says at least 29,600 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks, and thousands of bodies may be buried in rubble across Gaza.

Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas after the October 7 attacks on southern Israeli communities near the border with Gaza, in which about 1,200 Israelis, mostly civilians, were killed and about 250 were taken hostage by Gaza.

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