Israel criticises terms of Gaza ceasefire with Hamas but talks go on

Video caption, Watch: Celebrations in Gaza after Hamas says it accepts ceasefire deal

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the proposal for a new ceasefire in Gaza was “far from Israel’s basic demands” but that negotiations would continue.

His comments came after Hamas said it had accepted truce terms proposed by Qatari and Egyptian mediators.

“The ball is now in Israel’s court,” said a Palestinian group official.

Overnight, Israeli forces and tanks were seen near the Rafah border crossing in southern Gaza, according to Israeli media.

Earlier, the Israeli army carried out airstrikes on Rafah, on the border with Egypt, after warning Palestinians to evacuate eastern parts of the city.

Tens of thousands of residents are believed to be affected by the operation and many were seen piling into vehicles or donkey carts on Monday.

Israel has long threatened an offensive against Hamas resistance fighters in the city of 1.4 million people, many of whom have sought refuge there fleeing Israeli offensives in other parts of Gaza.

On Monday evening, Mr. Netanyahu’s office said in a statement: “Even if Hamas’ proposal falls far short of Israel’s basic demands, Israel will send a delegation of mediators to exhaust possibilities of reaching an agreement on acceptable terms. for Israel.

At the same time, he adds. The Israeli war cabinet decided to continue the Rafah operation to “exert military pressure on Hamas in order to advance our war objectives: the release of our hostages, the destruction of Hamas’s military and governmental capabilities, and the guarantee that Gaza does not pose a threat to Israel in the future.” .

Earlier in the day, Hamas issued a statement saying its political leader, Ismail Haniyeh, had informed Qatar’s prime minister and Egypt’s intelligence chief of its “approval of their proposal regarding a ceasefire agreement “.

Image source, Getty Images

Legend, Palestinians flee Rafah on Monday

A senior Palestinian official familiar with the proposal told the BBC that Hamas had agreed to end “its hostile activities forever” if conditions were met.

This sentence suggested that Hamas may be considering ending its armed struggle, although no further details were provided. This would come at the conclusion of a two-phase ceasefire agreement, with each phase lasting 42 days.

The first phase would include the release of female Israeli soldiers held hostage, each in exchange for 50 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, some of whom are serving life sentences.

During this period, Israeli troops would remain in Gaza. But within 11 days of the ceasefire taking effect, Israel would begin dismantling its military installations in the center of the territory and withdraw from the Salah al-Din road, which is the main north-south route, and of the coastal road.

After 11 days, the displaced Palestinians would be allowed to return to the north.

The second phase would end with a “long period of lasting calm” and the complete lifting of the blockade of Gaza, according to the official.

Video caption, Watch: Gazans ask ‘where do we go now?’ » after Rafah evacuation orders

US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters that the United States – which is trying to negotiate a deal with Qatar and Egypt – was studying Hamas’ response and “discussing it with our partners “.

The war began when Hamas gunmen stormed into southern Israel on October 7, killing around 1,200 people and taking more than 250 hostages.

More than 34,700 people were killed in Gaza during the ensuing Israeli military campaign, according to the Hamas-run territory’s Health Ministry.

A deal reached in November allowed Hamas to release 105 hostages in exchange for a one-week ceasefire and some 240 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

Israel says 128 hostages remain missing in Gaza, with at least 34 presumed dead.

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