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Netanyahu: Israel to invade Rafah; ceasefire talks ongoing

  1. Netanyahu vows Israel will invade Rafah amid ceasefire negotiations
  2. Potential ceasefire hinges on Hamas response to Israel’s proposal
  3. Blinken urges Hamas action for enduring peace, evaluates truce

Amid shaky ongoing armistice negotiations, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reaffirmed his pledge that Israel will launch a ground assault on Rafah in southern Gaza. 

Netanyahu stated on Tuesday that Israel will “completely destroy” the Hamas battalions in the region, “deal or no deal,” to end the nearly seven-month conflict. 

A potential ceasefire accord is under negotiation between Israel and Hamas, along with the exchange of Palestinian group hostages in Gaza for Israeli prisoners. 

“It is inconceivable that the war will be ended prior to the culmination of its objectives.” “With or without a deal, we will enter Rafah and eliminate Hamas battalions there in order to achieve a total victory,” the prime minister declared during a meeting with the families of hostages being held captive by armed factions in Gaza. 

Hamas has stated unequivocally that it will not agree to a settlement that does not include a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza and a permanent ceasefire – both of which have been significant sticking points in negotiations. 

Netanyahu has repeatedly vowed to proceed with an invasion of Rafah for months, notwithstanding public opposition from Israel’s principal ally, the United States

An assault on Rafah, where over one million displaced Palestinians are seeking refuge, would be calamitous, according to aid organizations. 

Antonio Guterres, the secretary-general of the United Nations, urged Israel on Tuesday to abstain from a military offensive that would “force hundreds of thousands of civilians to flee and kill thousands more; it would be an intolerable escalation.” 

The Israeli military campaign in Gaza ensued after an unprecedented raid conducted by Hamas into southern Israel on October 7. Approximately 250 others were captured as captives. Israel has reported that the combatants continue to hold the remains of over thirty others and approximately one hundred captives. 

More than 34,000 people have been slain in Israel’s invasion of Gaza, according to Palestinian health authorities. Approximately 80% of Gaza’s 2.3 million inhabitants have been displaced by the conflict, primarily to southern Gaza. In addition to wreaking havoc on numerous villages and cities, the war has brought the northern region of the island to the verge of famine. 

Impending assault

Army radio in Israel reported that an assault on Rafah will be approved “in the coming days” if Hamas and Israel fail to reach an armistice agreement. 

“The order will be given to launch an operation in Rafah” if “negotiations for a deal” fail to produce results within days, according to a social media post attributed to “security officials” by Israel’s GLZ Radio. 

According to a post on X by the Israeli news outlet N12, hostage families claim Netanyahu informed them that the Rafah population has already begun to evacuate. 

On Tuesday, however, Philippe Lazzarini, the head of UNRWA, stated that “no one has been ordered to evacuate Rafah at this time.” 

Nevertheless, he stated during a news briefing in Geneva, “There is a sense that it could occur at any time if a ceasefire agreement is not reached this week.” 

“A person close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu” told Reuters that Israel is awaiting Hamas’ response to its proposal before dispatching a team to Egypt to continue ceasefire negotiations. 

The Israeli proposal, according to British Foreign Secretary David Cameron, would result in a forty-day pause in hostilities, not the permanent armistice that Hamas has repeatedly demanded. 

Hamas is reportedly expected to respond to Israel’s most recent proposal by Wednesday evening, according to Stefanie Dekker of Al Jazeera. 

Hamas evaluates the proposal

The direct response of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to reporters’ inquiries regarding Netanyahu’s intentions to proceed with the ground assault was withheld. He emphasized that the objectives of Washington were the negotiation of a ceasefire and the liberation of the hostages. 

“The pressure is now on Hamas.” There will be no more excuses or delays. “Now is the time to take action,” Blinken told the press from the outskirts of Amman, the capital of Jordan. “We anticipate witnessing the formation of this agreement in the coming days.” 

“[A truce] is the most effective and optimal method for alleviating suffering and fostering an atmosphere conducive to hopefully progressing towards a truly sustainable solution that provides enduring peace for the individuals who are in critical need of it,” he further stated.

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Blinken is anticipated to visit Israel during his most recent journey to the region, which commenced in Saudi Arabia on Monday. 

Hamas stated that it is still evaluating the Israeli proposal. A senior group official stated that the organization continues to disregard calls for a permanent end to the conflict. 

“The Israeli paper makes it abundantly clear that they continue to insist on two major points: they do not want a complete ceasefire, and they are not seriously discussing the withdrawal from Gaza.” “They continue to discuss their presence, which indicates that they will maintain their occupation of Gaza.” 

“We have substantial inquiries for the mediators. “If responses are favorable, I believe we can proceed.” 

The United States, Egypt, and Qatar have mediated negotiations between Israel and Hamas. 

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