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Palestinian leader appeals to US to stop Israel’s Rafah offensive

Legend, More than half of Gaza’s population has been displaced to Rafah, with many forced to live in makeshift camps exposed to sewage spills and waste.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the United States is the only country capable of stopping Israel from attacking Rafah, the southern Gaza city where more than a million people are sheltering.

Mr. Abbas, who rules parts of the occupied West Bank, said any attack could cause Palestinians to flee Gaza.

Israel has always promised to carry out an offensive in Rafah.

US President Joe Biden “reiterated his clear position” on Rafah to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a phone call on Sunday.

The United States has repeatedly said it cannot support a large-scale Israeli military operation in Rafah without a credible plan to keep civilians out of harm’s way.

Speaking earlier at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in the Saudi capital Riyadh, Abbas – whose Palestinian Authority has no presence in Gaza, which has been under Hamas control since 2007 – urged states -United to intervene.

“We call on the United States of America to ask Israel to stop the Rafah operation because America is the only country capable of stopping Israel from committing this crime,” he said, adding that only a “small strike” on Rafah would force the Palestinian population to flee the Gaza Strip.

“The greatest catastrophe in the history of the Palestinian people would then occur.”

More than half of Gaza’s population is in Rafah and living conditions in the crowded southern city are already dire, with displaced people telling the BBC there was a lack of food, water and drugs.

While the White House did not say what specifically Mr. Biden’s latest comments to Mr. Netanyahu were about planning the Rafah offensive, national security spokesman John Kirby told the ABC network that Israel had agreed to listen to US concerns and thoughts before entering.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has arrived in Riyadh where he will speak with Mr Abbas at the start of a new tour of the Middle East.

Meanwhile, indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas over a possible ceasefire and the release of remaining hostages in Gaza, which recently gained new momentum, have further highlighted divisions within the Israeli government coalition.

Benny Gantz, a member of the war cabinet and opposition figure, said on Sunday that the current government “would not have the right to continue to exist” if a reasonable agreement to return the hostages was not accepted.

“Entering Rafah is important in the long fight against Hamas. The return of our abductees is urgent and much more important,” Gantz wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, however, said the government would have to resign if it accepted a deal to cancel the planned Rafah offensive.

Their comments come after Israel’s foreign minister said the country could suspend the incursion, which Mr Netanyahu says is the next step in his battle against Hamas, if there is a hostage deal .

The Israeli military said its chief Herzi Halevi had approved plans to continue the war, with Israeli media saying this was a reference to the Rafah operation.

Long-running talks mediated by Egypt and Qatar have largely stalled due to differences between Israeli and Hamas positions, but Hamas announced on Sunday that it would send representatives to Cairo to give an answer to the last proposition.

US media quoted unnamed Egyptian officials as saying that the latest ceasefire proposal given to Hamas involved a period of calm of several weeks intended to lead to an end to the war, in exchange for the release of 20 hostages.

Hamas wants a definitive end to the war and the withdrawal of all Israeli troops from Gaza, while Israel insists that Hamas be destroyed in Gaza and all hostages released.

Egypt and other Arab states have already said an influx of Palestinian refugees fleeing the war would be unacceptable because it would amount to the expulsion of Palestinians from their lands.

Satellite images show new tent encampments under construction near the Gaza coast, west of Rafah, and the town of Khan Younis, slightly further north, which is largely in ruins. According to media reports, the tents are intended to accommodate displaced people from Rafah.

The current war began when Hamas attacked Israeli communities near Gaza, killing around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking around 250 hostages. Some 133 hostages are still believed to be in Gaza, around thirty of whom are believed to have died, after a brief truce in November which allowed the release of some hostages.

Israel’s campaign of aerial bombardments and ground operations in Gaza since October 7 has killed 34,454 people, mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry.

During the six months of war, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) entered and took control of all of northern Gaza, including Gaza City, and most of central and southern Gaza, including Khan Younis.

They have since withdrawn from almost all of these areas, but troops remain stationed on an Israeli-built road that separates northern and southern Gaza.

However, Palestinians displaced to southern Gaza – where the Israeli military told them to go for their own safety earlier in the war – have been unable to return to their homes further north, a key Hamas demand in ceasefire talks, and Israel has given no response. indication of when they will be authorized to do so.

Meanwhile, deadly Israeli bombardments continue across Gaza, including in Rafah, with the Israeli military claiming to have hit projectile launch sites.

News Source :
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jack colman

With a penchant for words, jack began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class. After interning at the New York Times, jack landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim. Though writing is his passion, jack also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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