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Mediators call on Israel and Hamas to agree to ceasefire

Photo: Eyad Baba Agence France-Presse The end of the fighting would be accompanied by the release of hostages kidnapped during the October 7 attack and held in Gaza, especially women and the sick, and the release of Palestinians detained by Israel. In the photo, Rafah under Israeli bombardment on May 31.

France Media Agency to Rafah

Published yesterday at 5:00 p.m.

  • Middle East

Qatari, American and Egyptian mediators on Saturday called on Israel and Palestinian Hamas to “finalize” a ceasefire agreement based on the plan announced by President Joe Biden, in the 8th month of their war in the Gaza Strip .

In the Palestinian territory, Israeli bombardments by air and land continued to target the city of Rafah (south), which had become the epicenter of the war triggered by a unprecedented attack by the Islamist movement Hamas against Israel on October 7.

As mediators in the conflict, “Qatar, the United States and Egypt jointly call Hamas and Israel to finalize the agreement on the basis of the principles set out by President Joe Biden […], which bring together the demands of all parties,” the three countries affirmed in a joint statement.

Plan in 3 phases

On Friday night, Mr. Biden announced a road map he said Israel had proposed that would lead to a permanent ceasefire in stages and with conditions, and he called on Hamas to accept it.

The first phase, he said, would be a ceasefire with an Israeli withdrawal from densely populated areas of Gaza for six weeks.

The end of the fighting would include the release of some hostages taken during the Oct. 7 attack and held in Gaza, especially women and the sick, and the release of Palestinians held by Israel.

The outlines of phase two of the plan will be negotiated during the six-week ceasefire, Mr. Biden said. In the event of successful negotiations, the fighting will stop definitively and all hostages still held in Gaza will return home, including soldiers. And Israeli forces will withdraw completely from the territory.

“Biden is our only hope”

A few hours after the statement by Mr. Biden, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted on twice reaffirming Israel's “conditions” for a permanent ceasefire as part of this plan: the “destruction” of Hamas, the “release of all hostages” and “the assurance that Gaza will no longer pose a threat” to the Israeli state.

And Hamas, in power in Gaza since 2007, was content to say that it considered “positively” the road map announced by Mr. Biden, after reiterating his demands for a permanent ceasefire and a total Israeli withdrawal from Gaza before any agreement, conditions rejected by Israel.< /p>

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Mr. Netanyahu is caught in the crossfire. On the one hand, his far-right ministers, Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, threatened to leave his government if he went ahead with the deal. On the other hand, thousands of Israelis took to the streets again to demand the release of the hostages.

“Biden is our only hope,” he told AFP a demonstrator in Tel Aviv, Abigail Zur.

The Hamas attack on October 7 resulted in the deaths of 1,189 people, the majority of them civilians according to an AFP count based on official Israeli figures. Of the 252 people kidnapped during the attack, 121 are still being held in Gaza, of whom 37 are dead, according to the army.

In response, Israel promised to destroy this movement which he considers terrorist as do the United States and the European Union. Its army has besieged the small, overpopulated Palestinian territory and launched a massive offensive that has killed 36,379 people so far, including 95 in the past 24 hours, according to data from the Health Ministry of the Hamas-led Gaza government. .

“The bombings have not stopped”

Despite protests from the international community which is concerned about civilians in Rafah, the Israeli army, whose forces advanced this week to the center of this town bordering Egypt, continued its offensive there.

Operations are concentrated in the west of the city, in the Tal al-Sultan neighborhood, where residents have reported air raids, tank fire and movements of military vehicles.

“All night long, the aerial and artillery bombardments did not stop for a moment in western Rafah,” testified to AFP a resident.

Heavy artillery fire was also reported by witnesses in eastern and central Rafah, where the army launched its offensive on May 7 in order, according to it, to destroy the last battalions of Hamas.

The army said it was carrying out “targeted operations” in Rafah. His soldiers “located numerous weapons and underground tunnel openings” there.

“Jabalia wiped off the map”

Since the start of the Rafah offensive, a million people have fled to the crowded coastal area of ​​al-Mawasi, further west. Life has become “apocalyptic” in certain areas of the southern Gaza Strip, the UN has warned.

It warns of a risk of famine in the Palestinian territory, where the majority of the estimated 2.4 million residents have been displaced, and says there is no longer a safe place in Gaza.

< p>Adding to the humanitarian catastrophe, the Rafah crossing with Egypt, crucial for the entry of international aid, has been closed since Israeli forces took control of it from the Palestinian side on May 7.

A meeting dedicated to this passage is planned for Sunday in Egypt with the United States and Israel, according to Egyptian media.

Elsewhere in the Palestinian territory, residents returning to the Jabalia camp (north) after the end of a new Israeli ground operation, said they were shocked by the scale of the destruction.

“Jabalia was wiped out of the map,” denounced Souad Abou Salah, from the camp. “It’s like an earthquake hit the camp,” exclaimed Mohammad al-Najjar.

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