Intense strikes on Rafah, last-minute talks in Cairo

Intense strikes on Rafah, last-minute talks in Cairo
Intense strikes on Rafah, last-minute talks in Cairo

The Israeli army carried out intense bombings on Tuesday in Rafah, in the south of Gaza, in order to increase “pressure” on Hamas a few hours before new talks in Cairo to try to influence a truce agreement.

Witnesses and Palestinian security sources reported late Monday and early Tuesday airstrikes but also intense artillery fire across the Gaza Strip, but more particularly in Rafah and its surroundings.

According to these sources, Israeli tanks are stationed near the eponymous crossing point which links the south of the Gaza Strip to neighboring Egypt. And according to the Kuwaiti hospital, located in Rafah, at least five people were killed in Israeli fire.

For its part, Islamic Jihad, the second armed group in the Gaza Strip after Hamas, announced that it had fired rockets from the Palestinian territory towards southern Israel. After its operations in Gaza City, then Khan Younes, Israel has been threatening for weeks to push its ground offensive as far as Rafah, considered the last bastion of Hamas but where 1.2 million Palestinians were still crowded last weekend, the majority displaced by the fighting.

However, on Monday, after talks in Cairo did not result in a truce agreement, the Israeli army began an operation to evacuate tens of thousands of people from Rafah. Then, in the evening, Hamas said it had informed Egypt and Qatar, mediator countries with the United States, that it had “approved their proposal for a ceasefire agreement” with Israel.

Qatar delegation

But this proposal is “far from Israeli demands”, replied the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The war cabinet decided “unanimously” to continue “the operation in Rafah in order to exert military pressure on Hamas with the aim of progressing towards the release of the hostages and the achievement of other objectives of the war”, indicated the Prime Minister’s services.

“Although Hamas’ proposal falls far short of key Israeli demands, Israel will send a high-ranking delegation to Egypt with the aim of maximizing the chances of reaching an agreement on terms acceptable to Israel,” they added.

Shortly after this declaration, Qatar announced the sending on Tuesday morning of a delegation to Cairo “to relaunch indirect negotiations between the two parties (…) with the hope of reaching an agreement for a ceasefire -immediate and permanent fire” in “exchange of prisoners and hostages”.

According to the No. 2 of Hamas’ political branch in Gaza, Khalil al-Hayya, the proposal includes three phases, each lasting 42 days, and includes a complete Israeli withdrawal from the territory, the return of the displaced and an exchange hostages held in Gaza and Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, with the aim of a “permanent ceasefire”.

Until now, Israel has opposed a complete withdrawal of its troops from Gaza and a permanent ceasefire, believing that it must first carry out an operation on Rafah to “defeat” Hamas and ensure that the October 7th doesn’t happen again.

That day, Hamas commandos infiltrated from Gaza launched an attack in southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP report based on official data. Israelis. More than 250 people have been kidnapped and 128 remain captive in Gaza, of whom 35 have died, according to the army.

In retaliation, Israel launched a vast military operation in the Gaza Strip which has already left 34,735 dead, mainly civilians, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health.

“The time has come”

In Israel, the Families Forum, an association of hostage relatives, judged on Monday that “the time had come for all parties concerned (…) to transform this opportunity into an agreement for the return of all the hostages” .

And during the night, Israeli media reported clashes between police and demonstrators in favor of a truce agreement in cities like Tel Aviv and Haifa. “I made a very strong appeal today to the Israeli government and Hamas leaders to make an extra effort to materialize a vital agreement,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.


In the absence of an agreement, the international community fears an imminent land operation on Rafah which “would be intolerable due to its devastating humanitarian consequences (…)”, added Mr. Guterres.

After Paris and Washington, King Abdullah II of Jordan called on the international community to do everything to prevent “a new massacre” in Rafah. And in a telephone interview, US President Joe Biden reiterated his “clear position” to Mr Netanyahu against any offensive in Rafah.

But in anticipation of an offensive, the Israeli army has already begun “a limited-scale operation to temporarily evacuate people residing in eastern Rafah”, estimating the number of people concerned at “around 100,000”. .

In leaflets dropped on eastern Rafah neighborhoods, the army warns that it is “preparing to act forcefully against terrorist organizations” and asks residents to “immediately evacuate to the expanded humanitarian zone of al-Mawasi “, about ten kilometers from Rafah.

“Residents are evacuating in terror and panic,” Ossama al-Kahlout, a Palestinian Red Crescent official in eastern Rafah, told AFP, adding that the designated areas were home to around 250,000 people. “My family and I, 13 people, don’t know where to go,” confides Abdelrahmane Abou Jazar, a 36-year-old man. This area lacks “place to pitch tents or schools to shelter us”.

This article was automatically published. Sources: ats / afp



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