At least 13 dead in latest strikes on Rafah

Israeli strikes on three houses in Rafah killed at least 20 civilians and wounded many others, medics said on April 29th, just hours before Egyptian and Qatari mediators planned for more ceasefire talks in Cairo, Arab News and agencies reported. 

Israeli warplanes also struck two houses in Gaza City, killing at least four people and wounding several others, said health officials.

Rafah — the temporary home of over one million displaced people seeking refuge — has been repeatedly targeted by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) since declaring it as the last Hamas stronghold in the Gaza Strip. On April 7th, Israel withdrew its forces from the city, but did so with the implication that Israel was “not ready to surrender,” said Netanyahu. 

Israel vowed to eradicate Hamas-controlled Gaza via military action that has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians — 66 of them in the past 24 hours of April 29th, said Gaza’s health authorities. 

Hamas had anticipated additional offensive action from Israel since Netanyahu teased a start date for a new operation despite international warnings not to proceed. Egypt, Jordan and France warned of the “dangerous consequences” of doing so. 

READ: Israel aiming to steal Gaza’s offshore gas

The United Nations additionally expressed concern that such action could result in a humanitarian disaster given the number of displaced people crammed into the area. On April 18th, UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned of a “full-scale regional conflict” due to Israeli tensions in Gaza and now Iran. 

Peace talks between Israel and Hamas delegates have stalled since April 13th, when each side publicly blamed the other for provoking the current “stalemate.” 

On April 28th, Hamas officials said a delegation led by Khalil Al-Hayya — the group’s deputy Gaza chief — would discuss a ceasefire proposal. Mediators, backed by the United States, have stepped up their efforts to conclude a deal.

While details of the latest proposals were not disclosed, a source told Reuters that Hamas must respond to Israel’s latest truce proposal delivered on April 27th. 

Allegedly it included an agreement to accept the release of fewer than 40 hostages in exchange for releasing Palestinians held in Israeli jails, as well as a second phase of a truce that includes a “period of sustained calm.” 

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After the first phase, Israel would allow free movement between both Gazan enclaves and the partial withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza.

Hamas has held firm in its four key demands to allow for a ceasefire. 

“Hamas has some questions and inquiries over the Israeli response to its proposal,” the source told Reuters, “which the movement received from mediators on [April 26th].” 

A senior Hamas official told Reuters that April 29th’s talks will take place between the Hamas delegation and Qatari and Egyptian mediators to discuss recent remarks by Hamas that suggested the group may delay its response. 

Qatar’s Foreign Ministry spokesman insisted that involved parties should “show seriousness” in allowing for a solidified ceasefire agreement. 

Arab News and agencies

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