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Israel commits to operation against Hamas in southern Gaza

Hamas spokesman, Osama Hamdan, accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of disrupting the efforts of mediators after Israel rejected the ceasefire proposal which Hamas accepted on Monday.


Speaking at a press conference in the Lebanese capital Beirut, Hamdan warned that if Israel’s military aggression continues in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, there would be no ceasefire deal.

”We emphasise that the ball is first in the court of Netanyahu and his extremist government, and that their behaviour after the announcement of the movement’s (ceasefire) agreement reflects the determination of this criminal to disrupt all efforts of mediators, including the US administration,” Hamdan said.

He also called on Washington to implement the ceasefire agreement ”and abide by its pledge to do so”.

Israel insisted the deal did not meet its core demands.

Hamdan’s comments come as a delegation from Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, arrived in Cairo to continue ceasefire negotiations and Israel’s war cabinet agreed to press ahead with a military operation in Rafah.

Israeli Government spokesman David Mencer said the incursion is ”the beginning of our mission to take out the last four Hamas brigades” in the Gazan city.

”We do not say this will be the complete destruction of Hamas. Hamas will still exist, but they will not be organised in battalions as they are still right now,” Mencer said.

By capturing the Rafah crossing, Israel gained full control over the entry and exit of people and goods for the first time since it withdrew soldiers and settlers from Gaza in 2005, though it has long maintained a blockade of the coastal enclave in cooperation with Egypt.

Osama Hamdan said the move was ”a crime and a serious escalation against a civilian facility protected by international law”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the capture of the crossing an ”important step” toward dismantling Hamas’ military and governing capabilities.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said Israel would ”deepen” the Rafah operation if the talks on the hostage deal failed.

The UN warned of a potential collapse of the flow of aid to Palestinians from the closure of Rafah and the other main crossing into Gaza, Kerem Shalom, at a time when officials say northern Gaza is experiencing ”full-blown famine”. 

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the operation along the Gaza-Egypt border in eastern Rafah was not a full-on invasion of the city that President Joe Biden has repeatedly warned against on humanitarian grounds. He said Israel had described it as ”an operation of limited scale and duration” aimed at cutting off Hamas arms smuggling.

Kirby also expressed optimism about the negotiations, saying Israel and Hamas ”should be able to close the remaining gaps” to complete an agreement, without offering a timetable.

Meanwhile, Palestinians in Rafah mourned the loss of their loved ones killed by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza’s southern-most city where 1.4 million people are taking refuge.

At least 23 Palestinians, including six women and five children, were killed in multiple Israelis strikes overnight into Tuesday, according to hospital records seen by The Associated Press.

The bodies of the dead have been taken to the Merwani hospital in Rafah. 

One woman was wounded in a separate Israeli attack near a refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip on Tuesday, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said. She was taken to a hospital by ambulance after being injured east of the Al-Maghazi refugee camp.


A small group of relatives of hostages held in Gaza along with activists raised their hands painted red on Tuesday outside the US Embassy Branch Office in Tel Aviv, demanding the immediate release of the captives.

132 hostages remain in captivity in the Gaza Strip, 128 of whom were abducted during the Hamas attack in Israel on 7 October.

Israel’s operation against the militant group has since killed more than 34,262 Palestinians.

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