Hamas agrees to peace deal: IDF continues operation in Rafah

Israel announced tonight that it would send a delegation to mediate talks with Hamas, after the militant Palestinian organization accepted a ceasefire proposal made by Qatar and Egypt, and continued operations in Rafah to "put military pressure"

by Sededin Dedovic
Hamas agrees to peace deal: IDF continues operation in Rafah
© Ahmad Hasaballah / Getty Images

Efforts to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza could be hindered as Israeli soldiers took control of the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing towards Egypt this morning, warned the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) today.

"The continuation of obstructing the entry of aid and fuel supplies at the Rafah crossing will halt the crucial humanitarian response throughout the Gaza Strip," UNRWA announced on the X platform. The statement added that "the catastrophic hunger faced by people, especially in northern Gaza, will worsen if these supply routes are obstructed." The Israeli army confirmed that it had taken control of the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt, which is a crucial entry point for humanitarian aid to the besieged enclave.

A Palestinian official said that all movement there had ceased when Israeli tanks took over the crossing. CNN has appealed to the Israeli army to comment on plans to secure aid delivery to Gaza. A source close to Israeli plans told CNN that the Israeli operation in Rafah would be "very limited" and aimed to maintain pressure on Hamas to agree to a ceasefire and hostage release agreement.

The same source stated that this operation was not a major incursion into Rafah that Israel had publicly announced for months. Before the start of the latest Israeli operation, Hamas announced last night that it had agreed to a ceasefire agreement, but Israel assessed that the document did not meet the basic requirements of the country.

An Israeli soldier directs a tank near the border with the southern part of the Gaza Strip on May 2, 2024 in Southern Israel, Is© Amir Levy / Getty Images

Hamas released a copy of the ceasefire and hostage release proposal, which the organization said it accepted last night.

The proposal, put forward by Qatar and Egypt, aims to end the seven-month war in Gaza, the Associated Press reports today. However, it remains unclear whether Israel will agree to these terms. The proposal includes the phased release of Israeli hostages held in Gaza, with a gradual withdrawal of Israeli soldiers from the entire enclave, culminating in a "sustainable calm" or "permanent cessation of military and hostile operations." Israel previously stated that it would not agree to a complete withdrawal of its forces or a permanent ceasefire under the hostage release agreement.

In the first phase of the 42-day ceasefire, Israeli forces would partially withdraw from the Gaza Strip and release 33 hostages held in Palestinian territory, including remaining Israeli women - both civilians and soldiers - as well as children, the elderly, and the sick.

Thirty Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails would be released in exchange for each Israeli civilian hostage and 50 for each female soldier. Palestinians displaced in Gaza would be allowed to return to the neighborhoods where they lived.

The parties would then negotiate the terms of the next phase, in which the remaining male civilians and soldiers would be released, and Israeli forces would withdraw from the remaining part of Gaza. A condition for this phase would be the achievement of a "sustainable calm." The final phase would involve the exchange of the bodies of prisoners who died in captivity and the beginning of a reconstruction plan for the enclave, lasting three to five years, "under the supervision of many countries and organizations, including Egypt, Qatar, and the UN." Israel announced tonight that it would send a delegation to mediate talks with Hamas, as the militant Palestinian organization accepted the ceasefire proposal drafted by Qatar and Egypt, while continuing operations in Rafah to "apply military pressure" on Palestinians.

"Israel will send a delegation to mediation to exhaust the possibilities of reaching an agreement" on a ceasefire, "even if Hamas's proposals are far from Israel's essential demands," the statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said.

"The War Cabinet has decided to continue the operation in Rafah to apply military pressure on Hamas," the statement added. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) announced tonight that its troops are currently attacking and targeting Hamas locations in the eastern part of Rafah and will soon provide additional information about the operation, the Times of Israel reports.

The IDF statement comes after Palestinian media reported a series of strikes in the area, where the IDF earlier urged civilians to evacuate. An IDF spokesperson said today that all proposals related to negotiations for the release of hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip are being seriously considered, but the military is simultaneously continuing to operate in the Palestinian enclave.

"We are considering every response seriously and exhausting every possibility related to negotiations and the return of hostages," Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari told reporters when asked whether Hamas's acceptance of the ceasefire proposal would affect the planned ground offensive on Rafah. "At the same time, we continue to operate in the Gaza Strip and will continue to do so," Hagari said.