Hamas says no ceasefire deal if Rafah offensive comes

ceasefire deal

Hamas official Osama Hamdan warned on May 7th that there will be no Gaza ceasefire deal if Israel continues its military aggression in Rafah, according to Reuters. The warning comes after the seizing of the Rafah-Egypt crossing by Israeli forces and as Gaza’s remaining population braces for Israel’s invasion of the enclave’s southernmost settlement.

Hamas officials agreed to a ceasefire deal proposed by Egyptian and Qatari mediators on May 6th that’s terms Israel deemed unacceptable.

READ: Hamas accepts Gaza ceasefire proposal

“The ball is in [Israeli PM] Netanyahu’s court, Hamdan told reporters, and that the May 6th ceasefire proposal “represents the minimum that responds to the demands of our people and our resistance.”

“We affirm that the military operation in Rafah, if carried out by Israel, will not be a picnic for the [Israeli] army,” he added.

Hamdan’s statement came during a press conference in Beirut, as a delegation of Hamas officials arrived in Cairo from Doha to continue ceasefire negotiations.

Israeli forces seized the main border crossing between Egypt and southern Gaza in the early hours of May 7th, shutting down a vital trade route into the besieged enclave that is already on the brink of famine.

READ: Israel seizes Rafah Crossing after overnight assault

While US President Joe Biden previously characterized an invasion of Rafah as a “red line” for Israel, National Security Spokesperson John Kirby echoed Israel’s description of “an operation of limited scale and duration” aimed at combatting arms smuggling, as reported by AP.

Kirby expressed optimism as to the ongoing ceasefire negotiations, stating that Israel and Hamas “should be able to close the remaining gaps” to reach an agreement.

The looming Israeli invasion of Rafah threatens to widen a growing rift between Tel Aviv and its main backer, Washington, which is purportedly concerned as to the fate of the 1.3 million Palestinians sheltering there, most of whom having fled fighting in other areas of Gaza.

Biden warned Netanyahu against a full-scale invasion of Rafah again on May 6th, however, the Israeli PM’s far-right coalition partners have threatened to bring down the government is the offensive is called off or if too many concessions are made in ceasefire talks.

Reuters / AP

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