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Israel-Hamas war: 'Progress' in Paris hostage talks as group 'drops' some of its demands

There has been "progress" in talks on a hostage deal between Israel and Hamas in Paris after the group "dropped some of its demands".

An Israeli official told Sky News' US partner outlet NBC News that Israeli negotiators have returned from ceasefire talks with US, Qatari and Egyptian officials in Paris.

"There was some progress in Paris but it's too early to tell if it will lead to a breakthrough," the official said.

Israel's war cabinet will meet on Saturday night to discuss the negotiations and the state of the war, they added.

The fact that Israeli negotiators believed their meeting on Friday with mediators warranted convening the evening war cabinet session "shows that they did not come back empty-handed", Benjamin Netanyahu's national security adviser told Channel 12 TV.

Meanwhile, a senior political figure told NBC: "Still far from a deal, but Hamas dropped some of its demands following the hardening of Prime Minister Netanyahu's positions."

Negotiators have been ramping up efforts to secure a ceasefire in Gaza, in the hope of heading off an Israeli assault on the Gaza city of Rafah where more than one million displaced people are sheltering.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh met Egyptian mediators in Cairo to discuss a truce this week on his first visit since December.

A Hamas official said yesterday that the militant group had wrapped up ceasefire talks in Cairo and were waiting to see what mediators bring back from weekend talks with Israel.

It comes after Gaza's health ministry said the number of those killed during the nearly five months of war has risen to 29,606. The total number of wounded rose to nearly 70,000.

Speaking on Friday, Hamas political official Osama Hamdan said the militant group has "dealt positively with the proposals and initiatives of the mediators" but that Israel's position "poses many obstacles to reaching an agreement".

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He said the Israelis had refused the main demands put forward by Hamas to "stop the aggression, to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, to return displaced people to the north [of Gaza], and to make a real reciprocal deal" on exchanging the Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners in Israel.

Mr Hamdan said his group is sticking to these demands.

Mr Netanyahu has called the militant group's demands "delusional".

Israel wants open-ended control over security and civilian affairs in Gaza, according to a long-awaited post-war plan drawn up by Mr Netanyahu.