Israel launches another deadly strikes on Gaza as negotiators work towards truce

AFP , Wednesday 8 May 2024

Israel struck the Gaza Strip on Wednesday after seizing the main border crossing with Egypt, where negotiators were working to make good on their "last chance" to cement a ceasefire deal.

Palestinian family members react as they gather around a wounded relative (not pictured) as civil defence teams help rescue victims from the destroyed al-Qadri family home which was struck by Israeli bombardment in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip , May 2024. AFP


After weeks of vowing to launch a ground incursion into the border city of Rafah despite international objections, Israeli tanks moved in Tuesday, capturing the crossing that has served as the main conduit for aid into the besieged Palestinian territory.

The push into the southern city, which is packed with displaced civilians, came as negotiators and mediators met in Cairo to try and hammer out a captive release deal and truce in the seven-month war .

A senior Hamas official, requesting anonymity, warned this would be Israel's "last chance" to free the scores of captives still in fighter's hands.

Egypt's Al-Qahera News reported Tuesday that mediators from Qatar, the United States and Egypt were meeting with a Hamas delegation.

It later reported that "all parties" including Israel had agreed to resume talks. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier that a delegation was already in Cairo.

Hamas member Khalil al-Hayya told Al Jazeera news channel that the proposal involved a complete Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, the return of Palestinians displaced by the war and a captive-prisoner exchange, with the goal of a "permanent ceasefire".

Netanyahu's office called the proposal "far from Israel's essential demands", but said the government would still send negotiators to Cairo.


Ongoing bloody strikes 

Despite the Cairo talks, witnesses and a local hospital reported Israeli strikes across the Gaza Strip overnight into Wednesday morning, including around Rafah.

One strike on an apartment in devastated Gaza City killed seven members of the same family and wounded several other people early Wednesday, the Al-Ahli hospital said.

Israel's Rafah invasion began hours after Hamas announced late Monday it had accepted a truce proposal.

Still, the announcement prompted cheering crowds to take to the streets in Gaza, though Rafah resident Abu Aoun al-Najjar said the "indescribable joy" was short-lived.

"It turned out to be a bloody night," he told AFP, as more Israeli bombardments "stole our joy".

Israel's Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said Tel Aviv might "deepen" its Gaza attack if negotiations failed to release the captives.

International alarm has been building about the consequences of an Israeli ground invasion of Rafah, where the United Nations says 1.4 million people are sheltering.

Aid groups have warned that the coastal "humanitarian area" of Al-Muwasi -- where Israel's military told people to go before it launched its Rafah operation -- is unprepared to handle the influx.

Two women are reported killed and others injured in an Israeli airstrike targeting the town of Khuza'a, east of Khan Yunis.

An Israeli airstrike also targeted a home in the Al-Zaytoun neighborhood of Gaza City, killing a least seven Palestinians, and wounding 14 others.


* This story has been edited by Ahram Online.

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