CIA chief returns to Egypt to help in efforts to secure ceasefire, hostage deal

The head of the US intelligence agency has reportedly returned to Egypt to assist in efforts to secure an agreement between Israel and Hamas over a ceasefire and the release of hostages.

The negotiations mediated by Egypt and Qatar appear to be stalled as Israeli forces continue their strikes against the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

Israel reportedly said that there is no sign of progress in the talks but Israeli negotiators will continue to stay in Egypt.

The Palestinian group Hamas accused Israel of not being serious about reaching an agreement.

Israeli media reported on Wednesday that in a meeting between CIA Director Bill Burns and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli side said that proposals accepted by Hamas "crosses all red lines in every parameter and is unacceptable."

US TV network CNN has reported that the CIA chief has left Israel and returned to Egypt.

US President Joe Biden said in an interview with CNN on Wednesday that he will stop sending bombs and artillery shells to Israel, if the Israeli forces launch a major ground offensive in Rafah.

For the first time since the Israel-Hamas conflict began last October, Biden officially referred to a possible halt of US weapons supply to Israel.

It is uncertain whether the US response could lead to a breakthrough in the stalled negotiations.

Meanwhile, the Israeli forces have carried out strikes in Rafah, where about 1.2 million people are sheltering, including eastern parts of the city where people were earlier told to leave.

Local media say an Israeli airstrike hit a residence in western Rafah, killing eight people including children.

Health authorities in Gaza say that the death toll has reached 34,904.

The United Nations aid agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, says that since the Israeli military operation intensified on Monday, around 80,000 people have fled Rafah.

The agency says that there is no safe place in Gaza amid the ever-worsening humanitarian situation.