US envoys work for a new hostage release deal and a scale-down of the Israel-Hamas war

1 of 15 | Israeli attack helicopter fires a missile into the Gaza Strip, Monday, Dec. 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Leo Correa) 2 of 15 | Palestinians flee the Israeli ground offensive in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, Monday, Dec. 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Mohammed Dahman) 3 of 15 | Palestinians look at the destruction of the Al-Gatshan family building after an Israeli strike in Nusseirat refugee camp, central Gaza Strip, Monday, Dec. 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Adel Hana) 4 of 15 | Israel Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant, right, speaks during a joint statement with his U.S. counterpart, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, following a joint statement following their meeting about Israel’s military operation in Gaza, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Monday, Dec. 18, 2023. (AP Photo/ Maya Alleruzzo) TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — The head of the CIA jetted to Europe for talks with Israeli and Qatari officials Monday, sounding out the potential for a deal on a new cease-fire and the release of hostages in Gaza as the United States defense secretary spoke to Israeli military leaders about scaling back major combat operations against Hamas . Still, there was no sign that a shift in the war was imminent after more than two months of devastating bombardment and fighting. Fierce battles raged in northern Gaza, where residents said rescue workers were searching for the dead and the living under buildings flattened by Israeli strikes. Pressure is growing as France, the United Kingdom and Germany — some of Israel’s closest allies — joined global calls for a cease-fire over the weekend. Israeli protesters have demanded the government relaunch talks with Hamas on releasing more hostages after three were mistakenly killed by Israeli troops while waving a white flag. U.S. officials have repeatedly expressed concern about the large number of civilian deaths in […]

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