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While peace talks are underway, Israel begins new attacks on Gaza.

At least 27,131 individuals have died in the Gaza Strip as a result of Israel's devastating offensive, the majority of them were women and children. (AFP/File)

Rafah: On Wednesday, Israel attacked targets in the Gaza Strip following its capture of the main border crossing with Egypt, where peace talks were in progress and intended to be the “last chance” to reach a ceasefire agreement.

Israeli tanks advanced on Rafah on Tuesday, seizing the crossing that has been the primary route for humanitarian supplies into the besieged Palestinian region, following weeks of threats to initiate a ground invasion into the city despite opposition from other countries.

The White House denounced the suspension of aid, and a senior US official subsequently disclosed that Washington had put a stop to a bomb shipment last week because Israel had not responded to US concerns about its plans for Rafah.

The incursion into the southern city, teeming with internally displaced inhabitants, coincided with a meeting in Cairo between mediators and negotiators to attempt to broker a ceasefire and hostage release agreement in the seven-month conflict between Israel and the Islamist organisation Hamas.

Requesting to remain anonymous, a top Hamas leader issued a warning, saying that this would be Israel’s “last chance” to release the numerous hostages that the terrorists still had.

The state-affiliated A group from Hamas was meeting with mediators from Qatar, the United States, and Egypt, according to a report published by Al-Qahera News on Tuesday.

Israel was among “all parties” that subsequently agreed to pick up the negotiations. Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, had earlier stated that a delegation from his nation was already in Cairo.

Israel’s close ally and chief military backer, the United States, said it was hopeful the two sides could “close the remaining gaps.”.

“Everybody’s coming to the table,” US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters. “That’s not insignificant.”

In the midst of the ongoing confrontation between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas, smoke billows from Israeli attacks in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on May 7, 2024. (Image via AFP)

Ongoing strikes

Witnesses and a local hospital reported Israeli attacks throughout the Gaza Strip overnight into Wednesday morning, including in Rafah, despite the Cairo discussions.

Early on Wednesday, an attack on an apartment in the devastated Gaza City neighbourhood claimed the lives of seven members of the same family and injured numerous others, according to the Al-Ahli hospital.

Hours after Hamas declared late on Monday that it had approved a cease-fire proposal, which Israel claimed was “far” from what it had previously agreed upon, Israel launched its Rafah operation.

Nevertheless, the news sent jubilant Gazanians into the streets, though resident Abu Aoun al-Najjar of Rafah claimed the “indescribable joy” was fleeting.

More Israeli bombardments “stole our joy,” he told AFP, adding that “it turned out to be a bloody night.”

The Egyptian-Qatari ceasefire agreement was approved by the terrorist Palestinian party Hamas on May 7, 2024; however, Israel has stated that the parameters did not satisfy its demands and that it will continue to strike Rafah. Israeli positions in the southern Gaza Strip are depicted in the graphic.

Aid blocked, bombs ‘paused’

In a film released by the Israeli army, tanks were shown on Tuesday assuming “operational control” over the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing.

Being able to deny Hamas “a passage that was essential for establishing its reign of terror” was what Netanyahu called the operation “a very important step.”.

However, Israel has also refused his organisation’s access to Rafah and Kerem Shalom, another significant assistance crossing on the Israeli border, according to UN humanitarian office spokesperson Jens Laerke.

Antonio Guterres, the secretary-general of the UN, called the restrictions “especially damaging to an already dire humanitarian situation” and asked Israel to reopen both crossings “immediately.”.

A similar opinion was expressed by White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, who described the closures as “unacceptable.”.

She stated that a reopening of the Kerem Shalom border was anticipated for Wednesday.

Soon after, a high-ranking Biden administration official disclosed, speaking under anonymity, that the US had “paused one shipment of weapons last week” as a result of Israel’s failure to answer Washington’s concerns regarding the Rafah incursion, to which Washington has strongly objected.

According to the official, the cargo included almost 3,500 heavy-duty bombs.

For the first time, Biden had followed through on a warning he issued to Netanyahu back in April: that US policy in Gaza would be contingent on Israel’s treatment of civilians.

According to the US official, Washington was “particularly focused” on the potential effects of using the largest bombs—2,000 pounds or 907 kilogrammes—in densely populated areas.

The source did, however, add, “We haven’t decided how to go with this in the end.

According to the US official, Washington was “particularly focused” on the potential effects of using the largest bombs—2,000 pounds or 907 kilogrammes—in densely populated areas.

The representative did, however, clarify that “we have not made a final determination on how to proceed with this shipment.”

Meanwhile, the Pentagon announced that the US military has finished building an aid dock off the shore of Gaza; however, due to the current weather, it is unsafe to move the two-part facility into its proper location.

In order to “gain a deeper understanding of the perspectives of Egyptian military leaders on regional security and the status of humanitarian aid,” General Michael Erik Kurilla, the head of the US Central Command, was reported to have visited Egypt on Monday and Tuesday.

In a film released by the Israeli army, tanks were shown on Tuesday assuming “operational control” over the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing.

Being able to deny Hamas “a passage that was essential for establishing its reign of terror” was what Netanyahu called the operation “a very important step.”.

However, Israel has also refused his organisation’s access to Rafah and Kerem Shalom, another significant assistance crossing on the Israeli border, according to UN humanitarian office spokesperson Jens Laerke.

Antonio Guterres, the secretary-general of the UN, called the restrictions “especially damaging to an already dire humanitarian situation” and asked Israel to reopen both crossings “immediately.”.

A similar opinion was expressed by White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, who described the closures as “unacceptable.”.

She stated that a reopening of the Kerem Shalom border was anticipated for Wednesday.

Soon after, a high-ranking Biden administration official disclosed, speaking under anonymity, that the US had “paused one shipment of weapons last week” as a result of Israel’s failure to answer Washington’s concerns regarding the Rafah incursion, to which Washington has strongly objected.

According to the official, the cargo included almost 3,500 heavy-duty bombs.

For the first time, Biden had followed through on a warning he issued to Netanyahu back in April: that US policy in Gaza would be contingent on Israel’s treatment of civilians.

According to the US official, Washington was “particularly focused” on the potential effects of using the largest bombs—2,000 pounds or 907 kilogrammes—in densely populated areas.

The source did, however, add, “We haven’t decided how to go with this in the end.

According to the US official, Washington was “particularly focused” on the potential effects of using the largest bombs—2,000 pounds or 907 kilogrammes—in densely populated areas.

The representative did, however, clarify that “we have not made a final determination on how to proceed with this shipment.”

Meanwhile, the Pentagon announced that the US military has finished building an aid dock off the shore of Gaza; however, due to the current weather, it is unsafe to move the two-part facility into its proper location.

In order to “gain a deeper understanding of the perspectives of Egyptian military leaders on regional security and the status of humanitarian aid,” General Michael Erik Kurilla, the head of the US Central Command, was reported to have visited Egypt on Monday and Tuesday.

‘Until the first hostage returns.

An AFP count of Israeli official numbers indicates that around 1,170 people, largely civilians, died as a result of Hamas’s unprecedented strike on Israel on October 7, which set off the Gaza conflict.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive, which it declared would destroy Hamas, has killed at least 34,789 people in Gaza to date, the majority of them women and children, according to the health ministry of the Hamas-run enclave on Tuesday.

On October 7, militants also kidnapped some 250 people; of them, Israel calculates that 128 are still in Gaza, including 36 who are thought to have died.

If discussions fail to bring the hostages home, Israel may “deepen” its operation in Gaza, according to Defence Minister Yoav Gallant.

“This operation will continue until we eliminate Hamas in the Rafah area and the entire Gaza Strip, or until the first hostage returns,” he added in a press release.

In the truce negotiations, Egypt and Qatar have assumed a major role. On Monday, Hamas announced that it had informed representatives of both nations of its “approval of their proposal regarding a ceasefire.”.

The plan called for a “permanent ceasefire” and included a full Israeli departure from Gaza, the return of Palestinians who had been displaced by the conflict, and a hostage-prisoner exchange, according to Hamas member Khalil al-Hayya, who spoke to the Qatar-based Al Jazeera news station.

The proposal, according to Netanyahu’s administration, is “far from Israel’s essential demands,” but the government will nonetheless send negotiators to Cairo.

Concern about the ramifications of an Israeli ground invasion on Rafah, where the UN estimates 1.4 million Palestinians are seeking sanctuary, has grown on a global scale.

However, Netanyahu has always stated that Israel must eliminate any residual Hamas fighters and that Israel will send in ground soldiers regardless of any peace.

The coastal “humanitarian area” of Al-Muwasi, where Israel’s military instructed refugees to go before the start of the Rafah operation, has been cautioned by aid organisations that it is not equipped to handle the surge.

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