Home » Israel Strikes Rafah as Negotiators Try to Revive Gaza Cease-Fire Talks

Israel Strikes Rafah as Negotiators Try to Revive Gaza Cease-Fire Talks

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Israeli airstrikes hit a southern Gaza border metropolis crowded with civilians on Thursday, a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced a cease-fire proposal by Hamas and signaled that the Israeli navy was getting ready to maneuver into the realm.

The strikes on two homes in Rafah killed and injured a number of individuals, in response to Palestinian information retailers, and heightened fears among the many a couple of million Palestinians who’ve sought refuge within the metropolis as Israel’s military has repeatedly warned that it plans to push farther south in its floor invasion.

“There isn’t a place for the individuals to run to,” mentioned Fathi Abu Snema, a 45-year-old father of 5 who has been dwelling in a United Nations-run faculty in Rafah for almost 4 months. “Everybody from all different elements of Gaza ended up in Rafah. I don’t know the place to go.”

The strikes got here a day after Mr. Netanyahu rejected a Hamas proposal that referred to as for Israel to withdraw from Gaza, abide by a long-term cease-fire and free Palestinians held in Israeli jails in trade for the discharge of remaining Israelis who had been kidnapped in the course of the Hamas-led Oct. 7 assault.

Mr. Netanyahu mentioned that Hamas’s calls for had been “ludicrous” and that accepting them would solely invite additional assaults on Israel. Asserting that there was “no resolution in addition to complete victory,” he mentioned the navy had been ordered to organize to maneuver into Rafah, on Egypt’s border, which he referred to as considered one of “Hamas’s final remaining strongholds.”

At a information convention in Washington on Thursday, Vedant Patel, a State Division spokesman, raised issues in regards to the prospect of an Israeli navy incursion into Rafah. “We have now but to see any proof of great planning for such an operation,” he mentioned.

Mr. Patel mentioned that to “conduct such an operation proper now, with no planning and little thought” could be “a catastrophe.”

Because the United Nations additionally warned of devastating penalties from an enlargement of Israel’s navy offensive, Israeli leaders and Hamas officers mentioned on Thursday that they had been nonetheless open to additional negotiations to cease the combating.

“There may be settlement amongst members of the governing coalition, and significantly amongst particular person members of the federal government, that we do need to get the hostages again and to make a deal,” Miki Zohar, an Israeli authorities minister, mentioned in a radio interview on Thursday morning.

“However not at any worth,” Mr. Zohar mentioned. “Stopping the battle, for instance, they received’t comply with.”

Hamas mentioned in an announcement {that a} delegation led by considered one of its senior officers, Khalil al-Hayya, had arrived in Cairo on Thursday to take part in cease-fire talks with mediators.

Israeli officers have mentioned that they weren’t ready to simply accept one other supply that requires the withdrawal of their forces from Gaza and leaves Hamas in energy.

“The full withdrawal of Israeli forces and an finish of this battle is, in fact, not an choice,” an Israeli authorities spokesman, Eylon Levy, mentioned on Thursday. “Hamas was calling for full capitulation that can depart it free and emboldened to perpetrate one other bloodbath.”

Even so, Israeli leaders concluded that there was nonetheless room for dialogue if the proposal that Hamas provided this week was within the nature of a gap bid, in response to two authorities officers who spoke on the situation of anonymity to debate a delicate matter.

Nadav Shtrauchler, a political analyst who was as soon as Mr. Netanyahu’s media strategist, mentioned that despite the fact that the prime minister had spurned the supply, he left a gap.

“The door has been closed, however the window remains to be open — not for that deal, which he couldn’t settle for, however for a distinct deal,” Mr. Shtrauchler mentioned.

Help teams and the United Nations have repeatedly warned that an advance on Rafah could be devastating as a result of the town is now house to greater than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents, a lot of whom reside in ramshackle tents after transferring a number of instances in the hunt for security.

The Israeli navy made no formal announcement in regards to the strikes on Thursday and declined to touch upon whether or not they signaled the beginning of a floor offensive, saying it doesn’t focus on “operational exercise.”

A navy offensive in Rafah “would exponentially enhance what’s already a humanitarian nightmare, with untold regional penalties,” the U.N. secretary common, António Guterres, informed the Basic Meeting on Wednesday.

Gaza’s well being ministry mentioned that greater than 100 individuals had been killed by Israeli strikes within the territory over the earlier 24 hours. Greater than 27,000 individuals have been killed by Israel in Gaza in the course of the four-month battle, well being authorities there say. Round 1,200 individuals had been killed within the Hamas-led assault on Oct. 7, the Israelis say.

The Norwegian Refugee Council, an help company, warned {that a} full-scale Israeli navy assault on Rafah and the encircling space would result in extra civilian deaths and threat halting the trickle of humanitarian help that’s coming into Rafah from Egypt.

“An enlargement of hostilities might flip Rafah right into a zone of bloodshed and destruction that individuals received’t have the ability to escape,” mentioned Angelita Caredda, the Center East and North Africa regional director. “Circumstances in Rafah are already dire.”

Some Israeli and American officers have questioned how shut Israel is to reaching its purpose of defeating Hamas.

U.S. intelligence officers informed Congress this week that Israel had degraded Hamas’s combating capabilities however that it was not near eliminating the group, American officers mentioned. That evaluation appeared to contradict Mr. Netanyahu’s assertion on Wednesday that victory was “inside attain.”

Reporting was contributed by Abu Bakr Bashir, Julian E. Barnes and Edward Wong.

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