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Rafah under bombardment, after the presentation of an Israeli ceasefire plan

Intense airstrikes and artillery fire targeted the area. Saturday the town of Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip, the day after the presentation by American President Joe Biden of an Israeli road map in view of a ceasefire with Hamas.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, warned that the “conditions” for achieving a “permanent ceasefire” had not changed and included the “destruction” of the Islamist movement, in power in Gaza since 2007, as well as the “release of all hostages” held in the Palestinian territory.

Hamas had judged the road map revealed to be “positive” Friday by Joe Biden and which aims to achieve, in stages and under conditions, a “permanent” ceasefire almost eight months after the start of the war, triggered on October 7 by the bloody attack launched by the Islamist movement against Israel.

The army, whose tanks entered the center of Rafah in recent days, continued its offensive on Saturday in this border town with Egypt, launched on May 7 in order, according to it, to destroy the last battalions of Hamas there. .

In 24 hours, the war left at least 95 dead across the territory, according to the Health Ministry of the Hamas-led Gaza government.

Rafah under bombardment, after the presentation of an Israeli ceasefire plan

Israeli bombing of Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip, May 31, 2024 © AFP – Eyad BABA

In Rafah, operations are particularly concentrated in the west of the city, in the Tal al-Sultan neighborhood, where residents have reported shelling, tank fire and vehicle movements military.

“All night long, aerial and artillery bombardments did not stop for a moment in the western sectors of Rafah”, testified told AFP a resident of the city who did not reveal his name.

He added that Israeli shooters had taken up positions “on buildings overlooking the entire Tal al-Sultan district, making the situation very dangerous.”

Rafah under bombardment, after the presentation of an Israeli ceasefire plan

Palestinians leave the ruined Jabalia camp in the northern Gaza Strip on May 31, 2024. © AFP – Omar AL-QATTAA

Witnesses also reported heavy artillery fire in eastern and central Rafah.

In the center of the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian camp of Nousseirat was hit by airstrikes. In the north, artillery fire targeted the Zeytoun neighborhood in Gaza City, according to an AFP correspondent.

– “Apocalyptic” –

Since the start of the offensive on Rafah, at the southern end of the besieged territory, a million people have fled to the crowded coastal area of ​​al-Mawasi . Life has become “apocalyptic” in certain areas of the southern Gaza Strip, the UN was alarmed on Friday.

Adding to the humanitarian catastrophe, the point Rafah crossing with Egypt, crucial for the entry of international aid, has been closed since the Israeli army took control of it from the Palestinian side on May 7, with Egypt and Israel passing responsibility for the blocking.

A meeting dedicated to the reopening of Rafah is planned for Sunday in Egypt with the United States and Israel, according to a media close to the Egyptian government.

Rafah under bombardment, after the presentation of an Israeli ceasefire plan

US President Joe Biden at the White House, May 31, 2024 in Washington © AFP – Brendan SMIALOWSKI

“It's time for this war to end,” Biden said Friday, calling on Hamas to accept the Israeli plan. “We can't let this opportunity pass us by,” he added.

The first phase, Biden said, would be a ceasefire with a six-week withdrawal of Israeli troops from “populated areas of Gaza.”

Rafah under bombardment, after the presentation of an Israeli ceasefire plan

Photo released by the Israeli army on May 31, 2024 showing an Israeli tank during an operation in the Gaza Strip © Israeli Army – –

The end of the fighting, still according to him, would be accompanied by the release of certain Israeli hostages kidnapped on October 7 in Israel, in particular women and the sick, and the release of detained Palestinian prisoners by Israel.

Of the 252 people taken as hostages, 121 are still being held in Gaza, of whom 37 are dead, according to the Israeli army.

This temporary ceasefire could become “permanent” if Hamas “respects its commitments”, added the American president. The next phase would include the release of all hostages still held.

“Hamas views positively what was included today in US President Joe Biden's speech regarding a permanent ceasefire, the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, reconstruction and the exchange of prisoners,” Hamas said. indicated the movement.

– “Glimmer of hope” –

Rafah under bombardment, after the presentation of an Israeli ceasefire plan

“Israel's conditions for stopping the war have not changed,” Mr. Netanyahu's office said on Saturday, citing “the destruction of Hamas' military and governmental capabilities, the liberation of all the hostages and the assurance that Gaza will no longer pose a threat to Israel.”

The political leader of Hamas, Ismaïl Haniyeh, for his part repeated Friday that the movement's “demands”, starting with a permanent ceasefire and a total withdrawal of Israel from the Gaza Strip, were “non-negotiable”.

The war broke out on October 7 after the unprecedented attack launched by Hamas commandos infiltrated in southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,189 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP count carried out in based on official Israeli figures.

Rafah under bombardment, after the presentation of an Israeli ceasefire plan

Fighting in the Gaza Strip © AFP – Simon MALFATTO, Sylvie HUSSON

In response, Israel promised to destroy Hamas, which it considers a terrorist organization along with the United States and the European Union.

Its army launched an offensive that has so far left 36,379 dead in the Gaza Strip, according to data from the Gaza government's Ministry of Health.

The announcement of new plan has sparked reactions of hope across the world. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on Israel and Hamas to “seize the moment” to achieve “lasting peace in the Middle East.”

Rafah under bombardment, after the presentation of an Israeli ceasefire plan

Demonstration in support of the Palestinians in Gaza, May 31, 2024 in Paris © AFP – Zakaria ABDELKAFI

The proposal “offers a glimmer of hope and possibly a way out of the conflict”, according to German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock.

“We cannot let this opportunity slip away”, commented the Hostage Families Forum in Israel, calling on civil society to mobilize to push political leaders to accept and implement the proposal.

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