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US says Hamas ‘proposed amendments’ to truce deal as Israel stifles Rafah

The United States said Hamas had “proposed amendments” to an Israeli ceasefire agreement in Gaza, as the Jewish state continues its military offensive in Rafah. The assault in the southern Gaza city, which had been part of Israel’s months-long plans to retake Hamas’ last stronghold in the war-torn enclave, began Tuesday hours after the Palestinian militant group accepted a deal brokered by Egypt and Qatar to end the seven-month war.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, White House spokesman John Kirby said Hamas’s “amendments” to the Israeli truce proposal suggested that that “the remaining gaps are absolutely closed,” the Reuters news agency reported.

Kirby, however, did not point out what the “remaining gaps” were.

The White House spokesperson further said that mediators from the United States, Egypt and Qatar were meeting in Cairo to continue discussions towards reaching a truce agreement. Meanwhile, Hamas also confirmed that its delegation was also present in the Egyptian capital for the negotiations.

On Monday, Hamas announced that it had accepted the ceasefire agreement. However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said the deal did not meet the country’s demands.

The Israeli military issued evacuation orders to around 1 lakh residents of eastern Rafah after striking the town on Monday in retaliation for a Hamas rocket attack on the Kerem Shalom border crossing.

Here are the main developments:

  • White House spokesman John Kirby also said the Rafah assault was “not a true Israeli invasion.” He said Israel described it as “an operation of limited scale and duration” aimed at stopping Hamas arms smuggling, the Associated Press reported.

  • US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said that late last month Israel agreed to what Secretary of State Antony Blinken called a “generous hostage deal proposal.” . “This is the offer that was on the table,” Miller was quoted as saying by the Times of Israel.

  • The Israeli military said on Wednesday that 18 projectiles were fired from the Rafah area towards the Kerem Shalom crossing and Re’im areas in southern Israel.

  • On Tuesday evening, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the capture of the Rafah crossing was an “important step” toward dismantling Hamas’ military and government capabilities.

  • Following heavy shelling, Palestinian health officials said Abu Yousef Al-Najar, Rafah’s main hospital, closed its doors on Tuesday, while some 200 patients and medical staff fled the building.

  • Israeli strikes and shelling on Rafah killed at least 23 Palestinians, including at least six women and five children, the Associated Press reported, citing hospital records.

  • The Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings are critical entry points for food, medicine and other supplies for Gaza’s 2.3 million residents.

  • The White House said it had been told that the Kerem Shalom terminal would reopen on Wednesday and that fuel deliveries through Rafah would also resume on that date.

  • Israel’s 401st Brigade took “operational control” of the Gaza side of the Rafah crossing early Tuesday. Military footage showed Israeli flags flying on tanks in the area.

  • The United States, Egypt and Qatar have spent months trying to negotiate a ceasefire agreement and the release of around 100 hostages and the remains of around 30 others still held by Hamas.

Published by:

Karishma Saurabh Kalita

Published on:

May 8, 2024

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