The tanks massed at the Rafah crossing, Israel ready to attack


By John

Israel is pressing the deadline for the attack on Rafah, the last Hamas stronghold in southern Gaza where hostages could be held captive, and a refuge for over a million fleeing Palestinians.

The army has amassed dozens of tanks and armored vehicles along the southern border with Gaza, at the Israeli Kerem Shalom crossing near Rafah, journalists who saw the movement of military vehicles said. An operation essentially already announced on Thursday afternoon, when the Israeli army (IDF) informed the government that its forces have completed preparations to enter Rafah and that the date depends only on the war cabinet.

The IDF added that the 162 brigade, so far in the north and center of the Strip, has approached the southern city. Leaving the tense and prolonged war cabinet, a senior Israeli officer spoke clearly: «We are headed for Rafah without a doubt. There is no contradiction between this operation and an agreement for the return of hostages. The closer we get to Rafah, the more Egyptian involvement increases, naturally.”

In short, the preparations seem to be in the final stages, between war cabinet meetings, repositioning of the brigades and new air raids on the southern part of the Strip, in which a worker from a Belgian agency and the son of 7 died – in the last few hours alone. years. With the United States reiterating their opposition to the operation on the one hand, trying to convince Israel that there are “other ways to strike Hamas”, and on the other bringing together a coalition of 18 countries to ask for “the immediate release of all the hostages in Gaza” as a precondition “for reaching a ceasefire”.

Together with the USA, France, Germany, Great Britain and 14 other nations of the 25 nations that have their citizens in the hands of Hamas have joined the initiative. “American pressure has no value,” a senior official from the Palestinian faction, Sami Abu Zuhri, immediately replied, reiterating the demand for an end to the war as part of any agreement. However, the Jewish state does not abandon its plans. Meanwhile, fearing that the attack on the border city would trigger an exodus of displaced Palestinians in the Sinai which would put “Egypt's national security” at risk, President Abdel Fattah al Sisi has once again opposed “a forced migration” of civilians in Gaza fearing “catastrophic consequences”.

Egypt – now at the forefront of the negotiations – therefore presented the Israeli delegation with an initiative that provides for the freezing of the assault on Rafah against a change of pace in the negotiations: Hamas would have proposed a ceasefire lasting one year in change in the suspension of attacks against Israel.

An Egyptian delegation is expected in Tel Aviv on Friday to discuss it, with the primary objective of keeping the negotiation alive. But Hamas continues to raise the stakes, making demands that are increasingly unacceptable to Israel. Such as that of a five-year truce in exchange for the creation of a Palestinian state in the pre-1967 borders, proposed by Khalil al-Hayya, member of the political office based in Qatar and Yahya Sinwar's deputy. Except then specifying that it would be a temporary solution, because the Palestinians would not renounce the “right of return” of refugees and their descendants in today's Israeli territory.

“There will never be a Palestinian state with Hamas,” said US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby. “The United States supports the two-state solution”, but “for this to happen, leadership is needed that guarantees peace on both sides”.

For its part, Israel is about to hand over a new draft agreement to the mediators: the release of 20 hostages, including women, soldiers, elderly people and people in serious conditions, in exchange for the return of Palestinian civilians in northern Gaza. But the end of the war will not be declared.