Hamas warns that Israel will attack Rafah ‘torpedo’ peace talks | Israel’s War on Gaza News
Palestinian group issues warning as Biden says Israel should not attack without ‘credible’ plan to protect civilians.
Hamas has warned Israel that the issue of a ground offensive in Rafah would hinder negotiations on a truce and exchange of prisoners and prisoners, as the President of the United States Joe Biden said that an attack should not go ahead without him a “credible” plan to protect civilians in the city.
Aid groups and foreign governments, including Israel’s main ally the US, have expressed deep concern over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pledge to expand ground military operations into the southernmost city of Gaza.
Rafah, on the border with Egypt, is the last refuge for Palestinians fleeing the relentless Israeli bombardment elsewhere in the Gaza Strip in its four-month war against Hamas, inspired by the Palestinian group’s attack on October 7.
“Any attack by the occupying army on the city of Rafah would affect the exchange talks,” a Hamas leader told AFP news agency on condition of anonymity.
Netanyahu has told troops to prepare to enter the city that now hosts more than half of Gaza’s total population, raising concerns about the impact on displaced civilians.
A senior Biden administration official said Sunday that negotiators working on a phased framework deal to release the remaining hostages have made “real progress” over the past few weeks.
The hostilities resolution agreement was the main focus of a 45-minute phone call between Biden and Netanyahu on Sunday, although there were still “significant” gaps to close, the official said, adding, “It’s pretty much there.”
Biden told Netanyahu that Gaza progress should not proceed without a “credible” plan to ensure the “safety” of the people taking refuge there, the White House said.
An estimated 1.4 million Palestinians have crowded into Rafah, with many living in tents as food, water and medicine become increasingly scarce.
Netanyahu had told US broadcaster ABC News that the Rafah operation would go ahead until Hamas is ousted, saying Israel would provide “safe passage” for civilians who wanted to leave.
When pressed on where they could go, Netanyahu said: “You know, the areas we have cleared north of Rafah, plenty of areas there. But we are working on a detailed plan.”
Mediators held fresh talks in Cairo to end the fighting and release some of the 132 hostages Israel says are still in Gaza, including 29 who are expected to is dead
Hamas captured around 240 hostages on October 7, according to Israeli authorities. Dozens were released during a one-week break in November.
The military wing of Hamas said on Sunday that two hostages were killed and eight others were seriously injured in Israeli bombing in recent days.
Netanyahu has faced calls for early elections and widespread protests over his administration’s failure to bring the enemies home.
North of Rafah on Sunday, the Israeli military said troops were carrying out “targeted attacks” west of Khan Younis, the capital of southern Gaza, while Hamas reported violent clashes and said strikes had hit air Rafah too.
An unprecedented attack by Hamas on October 7 in southern Israel resulted in the deaths of approximately 1,139 people, mostly civilians, according to an Al Jazeera count based on official Israeli figures.
Israel has responded with an unrelenting offensive in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip that the region’s health ministry says has killed at least 28,176 people, mostly women and children.
The Israeli invasion has left much of the land in ruins and displaced more than 80 percent of the population.