Blinken urges Hamas to accept truce deal as he meets with Israeli leaders

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has urged Hamas to accept a truce in Gaza as he visited Israel as part of efforts to move ahead with the ongoing ceasefire negotiations between Israel and Hamas.

In a meeting with Israeli President Isaac Herzog in Israel on Wednesday, Blinken said, "We're determined to get a ceasefire that brings the hostages home, and to get it now. And the only reason that wouldn't be achieved is because of Hamas."

Blinken also met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later in the day.

Media reported that Israel had made a proposal in its negotiations with Hamas under the mediation of Egypt together with other parties for a Gaza truce and hostage release deal.

The proposal includes a 40-day truce in return for the release of at least 33 hostages, including women and children, as well as the release of several hundreds of Palestinians detained by Israel.

Israel's truce proposal reportedly aims for an arrangement for the return of sustainable calm following exchanges of detainees and prisoners in phases.

It also reportedly involves new wording on restoring calm which is meant to satisfy Hamas' demand for a permanent ceasefire.

But Prime Minister Netanyahu said on the previous day that he will go ahead with an offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah with or without a deal.

His remarks came as right-wing members in his government voiced strong opposition to relaxing offensives against Hamas.

Israeli forces' airstrikes continued in Gaza on Wednesday. Health authorities in the enclave said the number of casualties in the current conflict has now reached 34,568.