Home News LIVE UPDATES: Israeli tanks enter Rafah and take control of crossing

LIVE UPDATES: Israeli tanks enter Rafah and take control of crossing

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Israel stepped up attacks on the southern city of Rafah on Monday, hours after Hamas said it would accept the terms of a ceasefire plan proposed by Egyptian and Qatari mediators.

The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office stated that although the new proposal failed to meet Israel’s requirements, Israel would still send a working-level delegation to participate in the negotiations in the hope of reaching an acceptable agreement. Qatar also said it would send a delegation to the talks in Cairo.

As Israeli forces launch attacks east of Rafah, the prime minister’s office said the war cabinet had unanimously decided that Israel would continue military operations in the city to put pressure on Hamas. The office said the decision was designed to advance all of Israel’s war goals, including the release of the hostages.

Senior Hamas official Khalil Haya told Al Jazeera that the proposal Hamas is willing to accept includes three phases of 42 days each, stressing that its main goal is a permanent ceasefire.

At 7:36 pm in Israel, Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas’s political arm, described Hamas’ new position for the first time in a post on the organization’s Telegram channel. His statement came hours after Israel ordered residents in parts of Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah to evacuate ahead of a promised offensive, and a day after Hamas closed the Kerem Shalom crossing on the southern border between Israel and Gaza. Rockets were fired nearby. Kill four soldiers.

Ismail Haniyeh in Tehran in March.Credit…Waheed Salemi/AP

Haniyeh said he had told Qatar’s prime minister and Egypt’s intelligence chief that Hamas had accepted “their proposals.” Egypt had no immediate comment.

U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller confirmed that Hamas had “responded” and that the United States was reviewing the response with partners in the region.

Hamas negotiators left Cairo on Sunday after talks stalled and failed to reach agreement with mediators on Israel’s latest offer.

The main obstacle to indirect negotiations brokered by Qatar and Egypt is the length of the ceasefire. Hamas is demanding a permanent ceasefire that would effectively end the seven-month-long war, while Israel wants a temporary halt to the fighting so that hostages in Gaza can be exchanged for Palestinian prisoners.

Mr Haya, who has been leading the Hamas delegation in Cairo for face-to-face talks, said the new proposals also included a complete Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, the return of displaced people to their homes and a “genuine and serious” exchange of Israelis. Palestinian prisoners hostages.

Israel has made some concessions in its latest proposals, including agreeing to allow displaced Palestinians to return to northern Gaza and reducing the number of hostages it would accept for release in the initial stages of the deal.

“We review every response and answer on a very serious matter and make the most of everything in the negotiations,” Maj. Gen. Daniel Hagari, the Israeli military’s chief spokesman, told a news conference on Monday evening. opportunity to secure the release of hostages to secure the release of hostages” core mission. ” But he said that in the meantime, Israeli forces would “continue operations in Gaza.”

The Israeli military ordered the evacuation of more than 100,000 Palestinians from parts of Rafah on Monday morning. Israeli leaders have for months vowed to invade the city to root out Hamas militants there, raising international concerns about the safety of the 1.4 million people who have taken refuge there.

Michael Crowley and Aaron Boxerman Contributed reporting.

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