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Israel neglects Gaza ceasefire proposal, continues Rafah operation

Israel neglects Gaza ceasefire proposal, continues Rafah operation

Palestinian militant group Hamas on Monday agreed to a Gaza ceasefire proposal from mediators, but Israel said the terms did not meet its demands and pressed ahead with strikes in Rafah while planning to continue negotiations on a deal.

The developments in the seven-month-old war came as Israeli forces struck Rafah on Gaza’s southern edge from the air and ground and ordered residents to leave parts of the city, which has been a refuge for more than a million displaced Palestinians.

Hamas said in a brief statement that its chief, Ismail Haniyeh, had informed Qatari and Egyptian mediators that the group accepted their proposal for a ceasefire.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said later that the truce proposal fell short of Israel’s demands but Israel would send a delegation to meet with negotiators to try to reach an agreement.

Qatar’s foreign ministry said its delegation will head to Cairo on Tuesday to resume indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas.

In a statement, Netanyahu’s office added that his war cabinet approved continuing an operation in Rafah. Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said on social media site X that Netanyahu was jeopardizing a ceasefire by bombing Rafah.

An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the proposal that Hamas approved was a watered-down version of an Egyptian offer and included elements that Israel could not accept.

“This would appear to be a ruse intended to make Israel look like the side refusing a deal,” said the Israeli official.

Another official briefed on the agreement said Hamas had agreed to the phased ceasefire and hostage release deal Israel proposed on April 27 with only minor changes that did not affect the main parts of the proposal.

U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said Washington would discuss the Hamas response with its allies in the coming hours, and a deal was “absolutely achievable”.

More than 34,600 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict, according to Gaza health officials. The U.N. has said famine is imminent in the enclave.

The war began when Hamas militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing about 1,200 people and abducting 252 others, of whom 133 are believed to remain in captivity in Gaza, according to Israeli tallies.

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