Israel Balks at Hamas’ ‘Far-Reaching’ Ceasefire Proposal as Rafah Invasion Looms

ReutersHatem Khaled
ReutersHatem Khaled

Hamas said it agreed to a ceasefire deal proposed by Egypt and Qatar on Monday, just as Israel prepares to launch a controversial military operation in Rafah—a city in the southern Gaza Strip that’s currently home to tens of thousands of war refugees.

That agreement doesn’t appear to have satisfied Israel, however. An unnamed official told Reuters the agreement was “softened” from what Israel has demanded, reportedly adding that it was too “far-reaching” for Israel to give its own green light.

Details on what the agreement entailed were not released, and it remains unclear if the deal will have any impact on Israel’s planned operation in Rafah.

Israeli leaders have long said they wouldn’t accept a ceasefire deal—permanent or temporary—without the release of all Israeli hostages captured in Hamas’ brutal Oct. 7 raid into the country.

Hamas Threatens Consequences as Israel Orders Rafah Evacuation

The announcement came hours after Israel ordered over 100,000 Gazans to evacuate Rafah on Monday—a maneuver seen as clearing the area ahead of an attack on the city, which for months had served as a relatively safe refuge for Palestinian civilians fleeing Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.

Israel has defended the imminent assault by claiming Rafah is hosting the last bastion of Hamas, which it has vowed to eradicate entirely before it ends military operations in the besieged enclave.

Rumors of an imminent Rafah offensive drew condemnation from the west, including from France, who said the displacement of refugees from the city would be a war crime. President Joe Biden, who reportedly spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, also relayed that the U.S. opposes an assault there on humanitarian grounds.

Biden has pushed for a ceasefire for months, but reports out of the Middle East indicate Israel and Hamas remain far from reaching an agreement that would end the war—which has killed an estimated 35,000 people, the vast majority of which were Palestinians.

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