Israel: Significant gaps remain with Hamas over hostage release

Israel says there are still significant gaps between the country and Hamas following talks aimed at brokering a hostage deal between the two sides.

The Israeli Prime Minister's Office said in a statement that a meeting took place in Europe on Sunday. It was attended by US Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns, the head of Israel's Mossad intelligence service and officials from two mediating countries -- Egypt and Qatar.

One of the proposals believed to have been discussed is halting fighting in Gaza for up to two months and the release of hostages held by Hamas in exchange for freeing Palestinian prisoners in Israel.

But differences between the two sides apparently still remain. Hamas is calling for a complete ceasefire, while Israel says it will continue its military operation in Gaza.

While calling the meeting "constructive," the statement says, "There are still significant gaps which the sides will continue to discuss at additional mutual meetings to be held this week."

In Gaza, many people are suffering from cold and hunger.

Footage taken by an NHK camera crew in the southern city of Rafah on Sunday shows evacuees walking cautiously on the muddy ground and sweeping mud out of their tents. Some families are soaking bread in water before giving it to their children because they have been unable to secure enough food.

A woman said her tent and clothing got drenched due to rain. She appealed for assistance from the global community.