Israeli ministers meet on hostages, Rafah plan

FILE PHOTO: Site of an Israeli strike on a house in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip

JERUSALEM (Reuters) -Top Israeli ministers were discussing on Thursday what a government source said was a Gaza truce proposal to free some hostages held by Hamas, as well as prospects for an army sweep of the southern tip of the enclave packed with displaced Palestinians.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's war cabinet meeting was slated to be followed by a meeting of the wider security cabinet, the source said. Israel does not generally publish information on sessions of the two groups.

Israel awaits a response from Hamas on the latest ceasefire offer, presented by Egyptian mediators, which would bring about the release of some of the 133 hostages still held by the Islamist group since the Oct 7 cross-border attack that triggered the Gaza war.

One of the hostages, Dror Or, 48, from the hard-hit southern Israeli community of Kibbutz Beri, was confirmed by Israel late on Thursday to have been killed and his body was being held in Gaza. Or's wife was also killed in the Hamas attack and two of his children were taken hostage and later released during a brief November truce.

Throughout the course of the war, Israeli authorities have declared a number of captives still in Gaza dead in absentia.

Past ceasefire efforts stumbled over a Hamas demand for a commitment to end the war by Israel, which insists on eventually resuming the now almost seven-month-old offensive to dismantle the faction.

Israel has also described as imminent a long-threatened push into Rafah, on Gaza's southern border with Egypt, which it says is the last bastion of Hamas. Rafah is the temporary home of around one million displaced Palestinians, whose fate worries the international community.

While Israel says it will work to ensure the safe evacuation of civilians from Rafah, visiting U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday he had yet to see such a plan.

(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Peter Graff and Cynthia Osterman)