Hamas accepts truce proposal, Israel bombs Rafah

Hamas accepts truce proposal, Israel bombs Rafah
Hamas accepts truce proposal, Israel bombs Rafah

After Hamas’ announcement, the Israeli army carried out intense bombardments on the east of the crowded town of Rafah, where residents had been urged to leave, according to AFP.

The evacuation should prepare the ground, according to Israel, for a ground military operation in Rafah, which is opposed by many countries, including the United States, Israel’s main ally, and international organizations.

Hamas announced in a statement that it had informed Egypt and Qatar, mediator countries with the United States, that it had “approved their proposal for a ceasefire agreement” with Israel in the Gaza Strip, devastated by seven months of war.

The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu affirmed that this proposal was “far from Israeli demands”, while adding that Israel would send a delegation “to mediation to exhaust the possibilities of reaching an agreement” of truce.

According to a senior Hamas official, Khalil al-Hayya, the proposal includes three phases, each lasting 42 days, and includes a complete Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, the return of the displaced and an exchange of hostages still held in Gaza and Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, with the aim of a “permanent ceasefire”.

The UN Secretary-General called on Israel and Hamas “to make the necessary additional effort” to achieve a truce, according to his spokesperson.

But in the evening, the armed wing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad said it had fired rockets from the Gaza Strip towards Israel.

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

“Hamas’ ‘yes’ will increase pressure on Israel (…) to conclude an agreement,” said Mairav ​​Zonszein, analyst for the International Crisis Group (ICG).

In Rafah, which has become a refuge for more than a million people, the majority of whom are displaced, was the scene Monday evening of scenes of joy and shots in the air after Hamas’ announcement of a truce.

Indirect negotiations led by Qatar, the United States and Egypt, aimed at achieving a truce associated with the release of hostages held in Gaza in exchange for Palestinian prisoners, began on Saturday in Cairo but ended on Sunday without advanced.

Hamas demanded a definitive ceasefire while Israel said it was determined to destroy the Palestinian movement in power in Gaza since 2007, considered a terrorist organization by this country, the United States and the European Union.

Despite international objections, Benjamin Netanyahu promised to launch the offensive on Rafah, whatever the outcome of the negotiations, the Israeli army affirming Monday that it was essential to “destroy the last four battalions” of Hamas.

In this perspective, she said she had started “a limited-scale operation to temporarily evacuate people residing in eastern Rafah”, estimating the number of people concerned at “around 100,000”.

King Abdullah II of Jordan called on Monday in Washington the international community to do everything to prevent “a new massacre” in Rafah.

In leaflets dropped on eastern Rafah neighborhoods, the Israeli army warned that it was “preparing to act forcefully against terrorist organizations” and asked 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.

“Thousands” of people left eastern Rafah, he later added.

Residents told AFP they learned the news after a night punctuated by Israeli strikes. Some were packing their belongings, in their tents flooded by heavy rain, or piling them into trailers.

The “massive evacuation” of part of the population is “impossible” to do in a “safe” manner, underlined the spokesperson for the UN Secretary General, while the UN High Commissioner for human rights considered the evacuation order “inhumane”.

Washington, Riyadh, Amman and Paris have repeated their opposition to the offensive on Rafah.

In a telephone interview, US President Joe Biden reiterated on Monday his “clear position” to Mr. Netanyahu against any offensive in Rafah, according to the White House.

This evacuation order in Rafah “portends the worst: more war and famine. This is unacceptable”, also launched the head of diplomacy of the European Union, Josep Borrell.

The World Food Program (WFP) recently warned that the north of the Gaza Strip was being hit by a “real famine”, which is progressing towards the south of the Palestinian territory.

The Palestinian Authority, which sits in the occupied West Bank, called on Washington to prevent a “massacre”.

After Hamas’ announcement, the Israeli army, which said it had struck more than “50 terrorist targets” in Rafah on Monday, said it was maintaining its call for evacuation.

According to the Israeli army, “field hospitals, tents and an increasing volume of food, water, medicine and other supplies” are set up in Al-Mawasi.

But residents and humanitarian organizations describe areas already overpopulated or destroyed after seven months of war.

“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”.

“The area is already saturated and devoid of basic services,” according to Jan Engeland, director of the NGO Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

On Sunday, four Israeli soldiers were killed by rockets fired from eastern Rafah around Kerem Shalom, the main entry point for humanitarian aid from Israel to Gaza.

The armed wing of Hamas claimed responsibility for the shots, which led Israel to close the crossing, while international aid trickled into the besieged territory.

Mr. Netanyahu told Mr. Biden on Monday that he would ensure that “Kerem Shalom is open to humanitarian assistance for those who need it,” according to the White House.

The war broke out on October 7 when 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 established in from official Israeli data. More than 250 people have been kidnapped and 128 remain captive in Gaza, of whom 35 have died, according to the army.

Israeli reprisals have already left 34,735 dead in the Gaza Strip, mostly civilians, including at least 52 in 24 hours, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health.



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