Blinken pushes for progress on Gaza ceasefire deal

Washington's top diplomat is pressing ahead with a tour of the region to secure a ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas. The death toll in Gaza has topped 27,500 after four months of fighting between the two sides.

The latest deal mediated by Qatar, Egypt, and the US would see a pause in fighting in exchange for hostages.

In a meeting with the Qatari prime minister on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he plans to press Israel about the proposal.

"It's been shared with the Israelis, I'll pick up that conversation tomorrow in Israel when I'm there, and we will be working as hard as we possibly can to try to get an agreement," Blinken said.

Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said, "The overall prospect of this looks for us, at least as we received it, giving more promising and more prospects for better results."

They said Hamas's response to the plan is "generally positive." They did not provide more details.

Israel, meanwhile, vows to continue its offensive against Hamas. Its forces have threatened to advance on the southern city of Rafah where more than a million Palestinians have taken shelter.

An Israeli military spokesperson said 31 hostages taken by Hamas have been confirmed dead. The New York Times said that Israeli intelligence officers are looking at unconfirmed information that at least 20 other hostages may have also been killed.

The fighting in Gaza has levelled large swaths of the enclave.

Earlier this week, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees released a video that shows the remnants of a health center. The agency called the scene ''an unprecedented level of destruction.''

Health officials in Gaza said 107 people died in a 24-hour period on Tuesday.