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In Tel Aviv, Blinken says he is determined to obtain an Israel-Hamas agreement “now”

The head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken said on Wednesday: Tel Aviv determined &agrav; get "now" a truce agreement between Israel and Hamas associated with a release of hostages, in the seventh month of a devastating war in the Gaza Strip.

While Hamas has not yet given its response to a proposal calling for a cessation of hostilities for 40 days, Mr. Blinken should also try to press Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to abandon an announced ground offensive against Rafah, in the south of the Palestinian territory of Gaza.

According to an Israeli official, Israel will wait until “Wednesday evening” for a response from Hamas before deciding whether or not to send a delegation to Cairo with a view to a possible agreement. After a meeting Monday in Cairo with the Egyptian and Qatari mediators, a Hamas delegation returned to Doha and should give its response “as quickly as possible”, according to a source close to the Palestinian Islamist movement.

“Even in these difficult times, we are determined to get a ceasefire that brings the hostages home and to get it now. And the only reason it won't happen is Hamas,” he said. said Mr. Blinken, during a meeting in Tel Aviv with President Isaac Herzog.

The latest proposal, which provides for an exchange of hostages held in Gaza for Palestinian prisoners, follows months of deadlock in indirect negotiations despite the heavy human toll of the war and a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza on the verge of famine according to the UN.

< p>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.

– “Out of the question” –

In Tel Aviv, Blinken says he is determined to obtain an Israel-Hamas agreement “now”

Trucks entering the Gaza Strip © AFP – Omar KAMAL, Gal ROMA

Antony Blinken, for whom the new proposal is “extraordinarily generous on the part of Israel”, pressed Hamas on Tuesday to accept it “without further delay”.

Hamas, which took power in Gaza in 2007 and is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union, is primarily demanding a “permanent” ceasefire before any agreement, which Israel refuses.

And Mr. Netanyahu repeated on Tuesday that he was determined to carry out a ground offensive in Rafah, a city considered to be the last bastion of Hamas and where cram in around 1.5 million Palestinians, the vast majority displaced by the war.

“The idea of ​​stopping the war before having achieved all our objectives is “We will enter Rafah and eliminate the Hamas battalions there, with or without a (truce) agreement in order to achieve total victory,” he said.

M. Netanyahu is scheduled to meet at 10:45 a.m. local time (07:45 GMT) in Jerusalem with Blinken, whose country is hostile to a ground operation in Rafah due to fears for the civilian population.

< p>The head of French diplomacy, Stéphane Séjourné, who pleaded for a ceasefire during his meeting on Tuesday with Mr. Netanyahu, is expected in Cairo on Wednesday, according to the Egyptian authorities.

– “An unspeakable tragedy” –

“The truth is that a ground operation in Rafah would simply be an unspeakable tragedy. None humanitarian plan cannot counter this,” UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths warned on Tuesday.

In Tel Aviv, Blinken says he is determined to obtain an Israel-Hamas agreement “now”

Israeli soldiers in combat vehicles parked near the border with the Gaza Strip, southern Israel, April 30, 2024 © AFP – Menahem KAHANA

The war was triggered by an unprecedented attack on October 7 by Hamas commandos infiltrated from Gaza into southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,170 people, mainly civilians, according to a toll from AFP established from official Israeli data.

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 vowed to annihilate Hamas and launched a large-scale offensive – air then ground – which has so far left 34,535 dead, mostly civilians, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health.

And the Israeli air force continues to bomb the Gaza Strip, causing dozens of deaths daily according to the same ministry.

< p>– “Much remains to be done” –

In Tel Aviv, Blinken says he is determined to obtain an Israel-Hamas agreement “now”

Palestinians gather with jerry cans and other containers to collect water from a cistern in Deir el-Balah, central Gaza Strip, April 30, 2024 © AFP – –

The war has caused “humanitarian hell” in the small Palestinian territory besieged by Israel since October 9, according to UN chief Antonio Guterres.

< p>After the cold of winter, displaced families in Rafah are now suffering from rising heat, and find themselves threatened, without running water, 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 off the Gaza coast to accommodate cargo arriving by boat from Cyprus. The structure will be ready on Thursday, according to Cyprus.

In Tel Aviv, Blinken says he is determined to obtain an Israel-Hamas agreement “now”

A child stands behind barbed wire near a camp housing displaced Palestinians in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, April 30, 2024 © AFP – –

Mr. Blinken welcomed the opening on Tuesday of a “direct” land route between Jordan and Gaza via the Erez crossing, opened by Israel under pressure from the United States.

“This is real and important progress, but there is still much to do,” said Mr. Blinken, who, before Israel, visited Jordan and Saudi Arabia as part of his seventh mission to the Middle East since the start of the war.


All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

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