Israel says it will continue talks despite the cease-fire in Gaza

The Associated Press

JERUSALEM (AP) — Hamas said Monday it accepted an Egyptian-Qatari cease-fire proposal, but Israel said the deal did not meet its core demands and it was pushing ahead with an assault on the southern Gaza city of Rafah.
Hamas’s abrupt acceptance of the cease-fire deal came hours after Israel ordered an evacuation of some 100,000 Palestinians from eastern neighborhoods of Rafah, signaling an invasion was imminent.
The Israeli military said it was conducting “targeted strikes” against Hamas in eastern Rafah.
The reported incursion came a day after Hamas militants killed four Israeli soldiers in a mortar attack that Israel said originated near the Rafah crossing.
Shortly after Hamas said it had accepted the Egyptian-Qatari truce proposal, Israel’s War Cabinet decided to continue the Rafah operation, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ‘s office said.
It also said that while the proposal Hamas agreed to “is far from meeting Israel’s core demands,” it would send negotiators to Egypt to work on a deal.
It could also wreck the humanitarian aid operation based out of Rafah that is keeping Palestinians across the Gaza Strip alive, they say.
After exchanges during a November cease-fire, Hamas is believed to still hold about 100 hostages as well the bodies of around 30 others.

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JERUSALEM (AP) — Hamas announced on Monday that it had approved a cease-fire proposal from Egypt and Qatar, but Israel insisted that the agreement did not satisfy its fundamental demands and that it was continuing its attack on Rafah, a city in southern Gaza. Israeli officials insisted that talks would go on.

A slim hope for an agreement that could at least temporarily halt the seven-month-old conflict that has destroyed the Gaza Strip lingered in the wake of the high-stakes diplomatic maneuvers and military brinkmanship. The possibility of a full-scale Israeli attack on Rafah, which the US strongly opposes and which humanitarian organizations warn will be catastrophic for the roughly 1.4 million Palestinians seeking shelter there, loomed large over the negotiations.

Following Israel’s order to evacuate about 100,000 Palestinians from Rafah’s eastern neighborhoods, which suggested an impending invasion, Hamas abruptly accepted the cease-fire agreement.

In eastern Rafah, the Israeli military announced that it was carrying out “targeted strikes” against Hamas. According to a Palestinian security official and an Egyptian official, Israeli tanks soon arrived in Rafah and came as close as 200 meters (yards) from the town’s border crossing with Egypt. Due to their lack of authorization to speak with the media, both of them spoke under the condition of anonymity. The alleged incursion occurred one day after four Israeli soldiers were killed by Hamas militants in a mortar attack that Israel claimed started close to the Rafah crossing.

The Egyptian official stated that it seemed like a small-scale operation. The extent of the operation could not be independently confirmed by the Associated Press.

Additionally, late on Monday, Israeli airstrikes struck another area of Rafah, killing at least five people—including a woman and a child—according to hospital officials.

The Israeli military remained silent on the matter.

Israel’s War Cabinet chose to carry out the Rafah operation shortly after Hamas announced that it had approved the Egyptian-Qatari truce proposal, according to the prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office. It further stated that it would send negotiators to Egypt to work on a deal, even though the proposal that Hamas accepted “is far from meeting Israel’s core demands.”. Qatar declared late on Monday that it would also be sending a team to Egypt.

In their conversation, President Joe Biden reaffirmed U.S. s. worries about a possible Rafah invasion. I. S. American officials were analyzing the Hamas response, according to State Department spokesman Matthew Miller, “and discussing it with our partners in the region.”. “.

If the proposal that Hamas accepted differed significantly from the one that the U.S. s. The militant group was pressured last week by Secretary of State Antony Blinken to accept, which Blinken claimed included major Israeli concessions.

A U.S. official stated that the U. S. was investigating whether the version that Hamas accepted was the one approved by international and Israeli negotiators or something else.

According to Egyptian officials, the plan called for a multi-phase cease-fire that would begin with a limited hostage release and a partial withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza. They said that talks on a “permanent calm” would also take place, one that would result in the complete release of the hostages and a larger Israeli withdrawal from the area.

It wasn’t apparent if any changes were made, but Hamas had demanded more explicit assurances for its main demand: an end to the war and a full Israeli withdrawal in exchange for the release of all hostages.

Israeli officials have consistently refused that compromise, pledging to continue their campaign until Hamas is destroyed following its October surrender. 7 attack on Israel, which set off the conflict.

Hard-line coalition allies of Netanyahu are pressuring him to attack Rafah, threatening to topple his government if he agrees to a deal. In addition, the families of the hostages are putting pressure on him to strike a deal that will free them. They claim that there is not enough time left to safely return their loved ones home and that a ground operation would put them in even greater danger.

A nationwide demonstration on Monday night saw thousands of Israelis demanding an early settlement. Protesters gathered in the vicinity of Tel Aviv’s defense ministry, numbering about 1,000. With a banner that said, “The blood is on your hands,” roughly 100 protestors marched toward Netanyahu’s home in Jerusalem. “.

Netanyahu stated on Monday that the attack on Rafah was essential to guaranteeing that the terrorists could not reassemble their armed forces. Israel claims that Rafah is the last major Hamas stronghold in Gaza.

However, he is met with fierce resistance from the United States. Miller said on Monday that the U.S. S. has not come across a plausible strategy to safeguard Palestinian civilians. “We are unable to endorse an operation in Rafah in its current form,” he declared.

Worldwide alarm has been sparked by the impending operation. Aid organizations have issued warnings that in an Israeli campaign that has already claimed over 34,000 lives and wreaked havoc on the region, an offensive will result in a spike in civilian deaths. They also claim that it might completely destroy the Rafah-based humanitarian aid program that is keeping Palestinians alive throughout the Gaza Strip.

Israel warned Palestinians living in the eastern neighborhoods of Rafah that an attack was imminent and that staying puts them and their family members in danger through leaflets, text messages, and radio broadcasts. “.

The military ordered everyone to relocate to Muwasi, an improvised camp along the coast that Israel had declared a humanitarian zone. In addition to adding tents, food, water, and field hospitals, it stated that Israel had increased the zone’s size.

Whether that was already in place, though, was not immediately evident.

Muwasi currently serves as a shelter for about 450,000 displaced Palestinians. The U.S. Not N. the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) claimed to have been offering assistance. Nevertheless, the mostly rural area’s poor conditions force families to dig their own latrines due to the lack of sanitary facilities.

After months of living in large tent camps or crammed into schools or other shelters in and around the city, Palestinians in Rafah were left exhausted and grappling with having to uproot their families once more for an unknown fate when the evacuation order was issued. Early on Monday, 22 people were killed in Israeli airstrikes on Rafah, including two infants and children.

Mohammed Jindiyah claimed that before escaping to Rafah at the start of the conflict, he attempted to withstand intense bombardment in his home in northern Gaza.

This time, he is following Israel’s evacuation order, though he wasn’t sure if he should relocate to Muwasi or somewhere else.

The twelve families in our group are unsure of where to go. Gaza does not have a safe area, he declared.

Wiping tears from her cheeks, Sahar Abu Nahel, who fled to Rafah with twenty family members—including her children and grandchildren—was distraught at a new step.

I don’t have any money at all. She said, “The kids and I are both extremely tired. Maybe dying would be a more honorable course of action. We’re being made fun of. “.

The extraordinary Oct. 11 set off the war. 7 attack into southern Israel, during which Palestinian militants kidnapped and killed about 250 hostages and killed about 1,200 people, the most of whom were civilians. Around 100 hostages and the bodies of about 30 more are thought to be held by Hamas following negotiations during a cease-fire in November.

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