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Blinken urges Hamas to accept truce proposal “without further delay”

Photo: Agence France-Presse After enduring the cold of winter, displaced families in Rafah are now suffering rising heat, without running water, and threatened by the spread of diseases.

Aymeric Vincenot – Agence France-Presse and Shaun Tandon – Agence France-Presse respectively in Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv

Published yesterday at 11:21 a.m. Updated at 12:20 a.m.

  • Middle East

The head of American diplomacy, Antony Blinken, on Tuesday urged Palestinian Hamas to accept “without further delay” the new truce proposal with Israel, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once again promised a ground offensive in Rafah “with or without” a truce.

Before arriving in Israel, Antony Blinken announced in Jordan the planned departure of a first convoy on Tuesday Jordanian aid to the Gaza Strip via the Erez crossing, recently opened by Israel following American pressure.

After Saudi Arabia and Jordan, the American Secretary of State arrived in Israel in the evening, as part of his seventh mission to the Middle East to try to secure a truce between Israel and Palestinian Hamas, at war. since October 7 in the Gaza Strip.

“We want to see in the coming days this [truce] agreement come to fruition,” he said in Jordan.

The mediating countries (Egypt, Qatar, United States) are awaiting a response from the Palestinian Islamist movement to a proposal for a 40-day truce, associated with a release of hostages held in Gaza since the start of the war in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. A proposal that Mr. Blinken described on Monday as “extraordinarily generous on the part of Israel.”

Mr. Blinken urged Hamas to accept the proposal “without further delay.” “No more delays, no more excuses. The time to act is now,” he insisted.

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“We are going to enter”

But in parallel with these hopes of a truce, Israel maintains its plan for land offensive on the town of Rafah, bordering Egypt, considered by Israel to be the last bastion of Hamas, in power in Gaza since 2007.

“The idea of ​​stopping the war before we have achieved all our objectives is out of the question. We will enter Rafah and eliminate the Hamas battalions there, with or without [a truce] agreement, in order to achieve total victory,” Mr. Netanyahu told hostage relatives in Jerusalem on Tuesday.

Many capitals, starting with Washington, and humanitarian organizations fear massive civilian losses in the event of an offensive on this city which has become a refuge for a million and a half Palestinians.

Such an offensive would represent an “intolerable escalation,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on Tuesday.

The prime minister's statements on Rafah “are probably more an attempt to maintain his coalition than short-term operational plans,” says Calev Ben-Dor, a former analyst at the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

Reacting to reports of a possible arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague against him, Netanyahu said later on Tuesday: “No decision, whether in The Hague or elsewhere, will undermine our resolve.”

According to the New York Times, citing Israeli officials, Mr. Netanyahu could be among those indicted by the ICC. The American newspaper also reported that the ICC was considering indicting Hamas leaders.

Hamas response expected

After a meeting on Monday in Cairo with representatives of Egypt and Qatar, a Hamas delegation returned to Doha to study the new truce proposal and is expected to give its response “also as quickly as possible,” according to a source close to the movement.

This proposal follows months of deadlock in indirect negotiations. A one-week truce allowed the release of 105 hostages at the end of November, including 80 Israelis and dual nationals exchanged for 240 Palestinians detained by Israel.

On Tuesday, airstrikes targeted Rafah, as well as the neighboring town of Khan Younes and that of Gaza, in the north of the Palestinian territory, according to an AFP correspondent.

According to the Ministry of Hamas Health, at least 47 people were killed in 24 hours across the Gaza Strip.

The war broke out on October 7 when Hamas commandos infiltrated from Gaza carried out an unprecedented attack in southern Israel, leading to the death of 1,170 people, mainly civilians, according to an AFP report based on data Israeli officials.

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

In retaliation, Israel has vowed to annihilate Hamas, which it considers a terrorist organization, along with the United States, Canada and the European Union.

His army launched an offensive that has so far killed 34,535 people, mostly civilians, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health, devastated the small territory and caused a massive displacement of population.

Hamas is particularly demanding a permanent ceasefire before any agreement on the release of the hostages, which Israel has always refused.

Its demands also relate to “an [Israeli] withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, the return of the displaced, a clear timetable for the start of reconstruction and an exchange agreement that removes all injustice towards Palestinian detainees, men and women” , according to one of the negotiators, Zaher Jabareen.

“Still much to do”

After the cold of winter, displaced families in Rafah are now suffering rising heat, without running water, threatened by the spread of disease and famine.

International aid, strictly controlled by the Israeli authorities, arrives in trickles mainly from Egypt via Rafah, but remains very insufficient given the immense needs of the 2.4 million Gazans.

The United States is pressuring Israel to make it easier for aid to enter by road and has begun building a floating port facing Gaza's coastline to accommodate cargo arriving by boat from Cyprus. The structure will be ready on Thursday, according to Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides.

Mr. Blinken welcomed the opening on Tuesday of a “direct” land route between Jordan and the Gaza Strip via the Erez crossing point, between Israel and the north of the Palestinian territory. “This is real and important progress, but there is still much to do,” he said.

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