Israel launches strikes in Rafah hours after Hamas agrees to a Gaza ceasefire

Israel Launches Strikes In Rafah Hours After Hamas Agrees To A Gaza Ceasefire
APTOPIX Israel Palestinians, © Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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By Associated Press

Israel’s military says it is launching “targeted strikes” against Hamas in the southern Gaza city of Rafah after the country’s war cabinet approved a military operation there, officials said late on Monday.

Hours earlier, the Hamas militant group announced it had accepted a ceasefire proposal brought forward by mediators Egypt and Qatar.


A ceasefire could end seven months of war in Gaza — however, it is uncertain whether a deal will be sealed, as Israel responded by saying the proposal did not meet its “core demands”.

A Palestinian security official and an Egyptian official said Israeli tanks entered the southern Gaza town of Rafah, reaching as close as 200 metres from its crossing with neighbouring Egypt.

APTOPIX Israel Palestinians
An Israeli defence force tank drives away from the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel (Tsafrir Abayov/AP)


The Egyptian official said the operation appeared to be limited in scope. He and Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV said Israeli officials informed the Egyptians that the troops would withdraw after completing the operation.

The Israeli military declined to comment. On Sunday, Hamas fighters near the Rafah crossing fired mortars into southern Israel, killing four Israeli soldiers.

The Egyptian official, located on the Egyptian side of Rafah, and the Palestinian security official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk to the press.

It comes as the officials from the US Biden administration on Monday continued to express concerns to Israel that a major military operation into Rafah’s densely populated areas could be catastrophic.


White House officials on Monday also were privately concerned about the latest strikes on Rafah — although the strikes did not appear to be the widescale attack Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been threatening, according to a person familiar with the Biden administration who was not authorised to comment publicly.

More than a million people are huddled in tents and overcrowded apartments in Rafah after fleeing Israel’s military offensive in other parts of the Gaza Strip.

Israel Palestinians
Palestinians flee from the eastern side of the southern Gaza city of Rafah after the Israeli army orders them to evacuate ahead of a military operation on Monday (Ismael Abu Dayyah/AP)


Israel says Rafah is Hamas’ last stronghold. Still, the United States opposes a full-scale invasion of the city bordering Egypt unless Israel provides a “credible” plan for protecting civilians there.

The war in Gaza has driven around 80% of the territory’s population of 2.3 million from their homes and caused vast destruction to apartments, hospitals, mosques and schools across several cities. The death toll in Gaza has soared to more than 34,500 people, according to local health officials.

The war began on October 7th when Hamas attacked southern Israel, killing around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and abducting about 250 others.

Israel says militants still hold around 100 hostages and the remains of more than 30 others.


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