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Awaiting Hamas' response to proposed truce in Gaza

Photo: Agence France-Presse A man carries a child sitting on goods on a road in Khan Yunis, Gaza Strip.

France Media Agency

Posted at 6:55 a.m.

  • Middle East

The Israeli army bombarded the Gaza Strip on Thursday while Hamas' response to a truce proposal is awaited, casting doubt on a possible agreement after almost seven months of war.< /p>

Israel and the mediating countries are still awaiting a response from the Islamist movement to a proposal for a 40-day truce combined with the release of hostages held in Palestinian territory, in exchange for Palestinians detained by Israel.

Visiting Israel on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on Hamas to say “yes” to a deal he deemed “extraordinarily generous” on Israel's part.

He also urged Israel to abandon a potentially devastating ground offensive on the town of Rafah, transformed into a gigantic refugee camp on the southern edge of the Gaza Strip.

“Sensitive situation”

In the absence of progress, Israel is continuing its deadly offensive launched on October 7 after an unprecedented attack carried out by Hamas on Israeli soil.

At least 28 people were killed in 24 hours, according to the Hamas health ministry. Bombings targeted the north, center and south of the territory besieged by Israel, largely transformed into a field of ruins.

At the end of November, a one-week truce allowed the release of 105 hostages, including 80 Israelis and dual nationals exchanged for 240 Palestinians detained by Israel. Since then, attempts at mediation by Qatar, the United States and Egypt have been unsuccessful.

The Islamist movement, in power since 2007 in Gaza, maintains its demands, first and foremost a permanent ceasefire prior to any agreement, which Israel has always refused.

A senior Hamas official, Osama Hamdan, told AFP that the movement's position was currently “negative” but that discussions were continuing.

“The situation is sensitive,” added Zaher Jabareen, a member of the Hamas negotiating team.

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“A credible plan” for civilians

Israel, for its part, says it is determined to continue the offensive until “total victory” over the Islamist movement, which it considers a terrorist organization as do the United States and the European Union.

To achieve this objective, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to launch, “with or without” a truce agreement, a ground offensive in Rafah, the last major bastion according to him of Hamas, where a million and a half Palestinians are crowded together, in majority displaced by the war.

Antony Blinken on Wednesday reaffirmed Washington's opposition to “a large-scale military operation” in Rafah, like many capitals and humanitarian organizations which fear heavy civilian losses.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, according to the Pentagon, stressed the need for “a credible plan to evacuate civilians” during a telephone interview with his Israeli counterpart Yoav Gallant.

On October 7, Hamas commandos infiltrated from the Gaza Strip in southern Israel carried out an attack which resulted in the deaths of 1,170 people, mainly civilians, according to an AFP report based on official data Israelis.

More than 250 people have been kidnapped and 129 remain captive in Gaza, 34 of whom have died according to Israeli officials.

The Israeli retaliatory offensive in the Palestinian territory has so far killed 34,596 people, mostly civilians, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health.

In the south of the Gaza Strip, airstrikes targeted the town of Khan Younes on Thursday, already razed after months of fighting, and artillery fire was reported around Rafah, according to witnesses and an AFP correspondent.

Witnesses also reported bombings and fighting accompanied by artillery fire in Gaza City, in the north, as well as in Nousseirat, in the center of the territory.

The army announced that it had struck several “terrorist infrastructures” on Wednesday, including tunnels used by Hamas.

The war has caused immense destruction in the small territory, where there is today more debris and rubble to clear than in Ukraine, a manager of mine clearance operations said on Wednesday. the UN.

A Gaza Civil Defense official, Mohammed Al-Mughayyir, warned on Thursday of the danger linked to the presence of unexploded ordnance. “There are more than ten explosions every week due to their handling by children and civilians, which cause deaths or serious injuries,” he told AFP.

“No respite”

In a workshop in Rafah, Youssef Harazi, a mechanic, hopes for an end to the bombings. “The war had a profound impact on us. We find no physical or mental respite,” he testified.

Not far away, doctors began to put the Nasser hospital in Khan Younès, devastated by the fighting, back into service after receiving new equipment.

“Our priority was to reopen the emergency department, we managed to re-equip it almost completely, using what is available inside the complex, borrowing from other hospitals or counting on foreign aid,” hospital director Atef al-Hout told AFP.

International aid, strictly controlled by Israel, arrives in trickles, mainly from Egypt, via Rafah, in the territory of 2.4 million inhabitants threatened by famine.

The United States is pressuring Israel to let in more humanitarian aid.

“Progress is real, but given the immense needs in Gaza, it must be accelerated,” Antony Blinken said on Wednesday.

After the Kerem Shalom crossing point, Israel opened, for the first time since the start of the war, the Erez crossing providing access to the northern Gaza Strip for aid coming from Jordan.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116