Israeli strikes pounded Gaza City overnight

News Desk: Israeli strikes pounded Gaza City overnight into Thursday as ground forces battled Hamas militants in dense urban neighborhoods from which tens of thousands have fled in recent days.

Israeli troops were around 3 kilometers (2 miles) from Shifa Hospital in the heart of downtown, the hospital’s director said. Israel has been vague on troop movements, but officials say Gaza’s largest city is the focus of their campaign to crush Hamas following its deadly Oct. 7 assault inside Israel.

Amid a drumbeat of international concern over dire conditions inside Gaza, mediators were closing in on a possible deal for a three-day cease-fire in exchange for the release of around a dozen hostages held by Hamas, according to two Egyptian officials, a United Nations official and a Western diplomat. The deal would also allow a small amount of fuel to enter the territory, which is currently reliant on generators for electricity, for the first time since the war began.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said any temporary cease-fire would have to be accompanied by the release of hostages. Israel has said around 240 hostages are currently held in Gaza. Their plight has galvanized Israeli support for the war despite growing international concerns.