Hamas accepts the truce agreement but Israel holds back: “We are evaluating”. The army orders the evacuation of Rafah


By John

Hamas accepted, at the last minute, the proposal of Egypt and Qatar for a ceasefire agreement with Israel. Perhaps in the last, desperate attempt to stop the invasion of Israeli soldiers in Rafah, where in the morning the order had been issued to evacuate around a hundred thousand civilians already exhausted by six months of war. In a new phone call, American President Joe Biden also tried once again to convince Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to invade the city in the south of the Strip, insisting on the fact that reaching an agreement for a ceasefire is the best way to protect the lives of hostages held in Gaza.

But the Jewish state is slowing down for now. “Now the ball is in Israel's court,” a Hamas official said after leader Ismail Haniyeh informed Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani and Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel – and Iran – that I had “accepted” their mediation proposal.

According to sources from the Palestinian faction, reported by the Arab media, the agreement on the truce provides for three phases of six weeks each with the objective of a permanent ceasefire, the complete withdrawal of the IDF from the Strip, the return of the displaced people to the north and the exchange of prisoners, starting with Israeli civilians, women, children, the elderly and the sick. Israel believes there are 33 hostages in this category, defined as “humanitarian”, and Hamas has committed to releasing them, alive or dead. Among the Palestinian prisoners to be released, there are also 20 sentenced to life imprisonment.

However, the final details are expected to be discussed again on Tuesday in Cairo. But while in Rafah the news was greeted by shouts of joy and shots fired into the air, Israeli sources – to Netanyahu's silence – made it known that Israel is still “verifying the proposal and its consequences”, as is the United States.

Publicly, however, Israel, perhaps irritated by Hamas's announcement being rushed forward, has frozen enthusiasm: «Hamas did not accept. It's his usual trick,” said Economy Minister Nir Barkat, meeting the Italian press in Rome and remaining in direct contact with his government.

It is “a unilateral proposal without Israeli involvement. This is not the draft we discussed with the Egyptians,” a senior Israeli official explained to the Ynet website, adding that in this way Hamas aims to “present Israel as one that rejects” the agreement. While for government security hawk Ben Gvir, “Hamas' games” deserve “only one response: occupy Rafah”.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan instead invited “all Western countries to put pressure on Israel to accept”. «We are pleased that Hamas has announced that it has accepted the ceasefire, at our suggestion – he underlined -. Now the same step should be taken by Israel.” Agreement or not, the Jewish State is moving forward with preparations for the military operation against the Hamas battalions in Rafah, an action that should begin “in a few days”, supported by the green light to the plans already prepared by the IDF voted unanimously from the War Cabinet.

We examine every response very seriously and exhaust every possibility on negotiations and the return of the hostages to their homes as quickly as possible as a central task. At the same time we continue and will continue to operate in the Strip”, clarified military spokesman Daniel Hagari. The start of the evacuation from the east of the city towards the humanitarian area indicated by the IDF in al-Mawasi on the coast has alerted the entire international community, which is trying to prevent events from escalating completely. Before announcing that it had accepted the truce agreement, Hamas also denounced “an escalation”.

The evacuation zone – which the army has defined as “temporary, limited and gradual” – includes “field hospitals, tents and larger quantities of food, water, medicines and additional supplies”. The IDF launched leaflets in Arabic, accompanied by text messages, phone calls and media notices to explain the reasons for the evacuation and the invitation to leave the area that will be affected by the fighting, those to avoid, such as Gaza City and the passage to north of Wadi, and also a ban on approaching the eastern and southern security fences with Israel.

In fact, some see the Hamas attack on Sunday, right from Rafah towards the Kerem Shalom crossing, with 4 soldiers dead, as the reason for the definitive acceleration of the military operation. Israel responded by starting to launch air raids on some areas of the city, in preparation for the raid, resulting in at least 26 deaths in one of these attacks.