Israel rejects ‘watered-down’ ceasefire proposal, but talks continue

Israel rejects 'watered-down' ceasefire proposal, but talks continue

Israel has rejected a ceasefire deal with Hamas with one official criticising it as ‘watered-down’.

Hamas agreed to the deal, proposed by Egyptian and Qatari mediators, on Monday but Israel said the terms did not meet its basic demands.

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Details of what was outlined in the proposal have been scarce but it is believed to have included a phased exchange of Israeli hostages in Gaza for Palestinian prisoners held in Israel. It was also thought to include provisions for displaced Palestinians to return to their homes in Gaza.

Despite the rejection, news that Hamas had agreed a deal was met with jubilation on the streets of Gaza among the strip’s war-weary population.

Palestinians celebrate in the streets of Deir al-Balah following Hamas’s announcement that it accepted a ceasefire proposal, May 6, 2024Abdel Kareem Hana/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.

«Frankly, we did not believe the news. The joy is unnatural. I do not know how to describe my feelings,» said Mostafa Eliyan.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would send a delegation to meet with negotiators to try to hammer out an agreement acceptable to both sides.

Strikes on Rafah

Also on Monday, Israel launched what it called ‘targeted strikes’ against Hamas positions in the east of the city of Rafah.

More than 1.4 million Palestinians are sheltering in the city after being advised to relocate there by the Israeli military which declared it a safe zone.

Earlier in the day, the IDF ordered 100,000 Palestinians to evacuate to a ‘humanitarian zone’ in the coastal municipality of al-Mawasi.

Israel’s war cabinet suggested it was determined to proceed with a full-scale ground offensive into Rafah to eliminate the Hamas battalions reportedly based there. But those plans have been heavily criticised by aid agencies and global leaders, with the World Health Organization warning it could lead to a ‘bloodbath’.

UN Secretary General Antontio Guterres statement on Gaza ceasefire

«I made today a very strong appeal to the government of Israel and to the leadership of Hamas in order to go an extra mile, to materialise an agreement that is absolutely vital,» said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

«This is an opportunity that cannot be missed, and a ground invasion in Rafah would be intolerable because of its devastating humanitarian consequences and because of its destabilising impact in the region.»

Meanwhile, protests have continued in Tel Aviv with demonstrators rallying in a bid to push the government to agree to a truce and bring home their friends and relatives from Gaza.

«We are here to tell our government that we won’t stop until they bring everybody home now. We need to bring them home in a deal and end all this suffering and agony that the hostages in Gaza are suffering. Now, before it’s too late,» said demonstrator Einav Liel.


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