An internally displaced Palestinian girl eats a piece of bread at a temporary camp in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah. Abed Rahim Khatib/dpa

An internally displaced Palestinian girl eats a piece of bread at a temporary camp in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah. Abed Rahim Khatib/dpa

DPA:  The Palestinian Islamist organization Hamas has presented mediators with a counter-proposal for a hostage deal, in indirect negotiations in the Gaza war, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

This would only provide for the release of Israeli hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails and a gradual withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip after a 42-day ceasefire, Haaretz reported on Sunday night, citing Palestinian and Arab sources.

Hamas had previously rejected a compromise proposal by the US, which envisaged the release of 40 hostages in exchange for 900 Palestinian prisoners during a six-week ceasefire.

According to Haaretz, the Hamas counter-proposal demands that the Israeli military ceases fighting in an initial six-week phase and withdraw from urban centres.

At the same time, Palestinian displaced persons would be allowed to return to the northern Gaza Strip. During this time, Hamas would search for all hostages in the embattled area and find out what condition they are in.

In a second phase, the Israeli army would have to withdraw to Israeli territory. Only then would the exchange of Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners begin, it was said.

For every Israeli civilian, Israel would have to release 30 Palestinian prisoners from prisons in return, it said. For every Israeli soldier, 50 Palestinians would have to be released from Israeli prisons, including 30 serving life sentences.

Israeli soldiers and dead hostages would be handed over in a third and final phase once the siege of the Gaza Strip by the Israeli army had ended and the reconstruction of the area had begun.

Israel had previously assumed that just under 100 of the approximately 130 hostages remaining in the Gaza Strip were still alive. However, it is now feared that many more may be dead.

Meanwhile three bakeries in Gaza City resumed operations on Sunday with the help of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

According to eyewitness reports, thousands of people showed up to buy food shortly after the announcement was made that bread would be baked again.

Palestinian officials say that before the war there were around 140 bakeries in the Gaza Strip that supplied the majority of the population with bread.

However, since the beginning of Israel's bombardment of Gaza after the October 7 Hamas attacks on Israel, Palestinians have had to resort to baking bread in open fires and clay ovens.

Israel is under increasing pressure to allow more humanitarian aid supplies into the sealed-off strip. Aid organisations describe the situation as catastrophic and say more than a million people are at risk of starvation.

More than 33,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the outbreak of war on October 7, according to health officials in the Hamas-led region.

The head of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) believes that famine is already occurring in parts of the Gaza Strip.

The official classification of famine means that at least 20% of the population is affected by extreme food shortages. In addition, at least one in three children suffers from acute malnutrition.

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