Israeli Military Strikes Rafah amid Ceasefire Talks

Israeli Military Strikes Rafah amid Ceasefire Talks

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Israeli military aircraft launched heavy bombardment on the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, accompanied by ground advances, shortly after the Palestinian resistance movement announced its acceptance of a ceasefire proposal.

A Palestinian journalist observed flares lighting up the night sky, while locals reported numerous reconnaissance drones flying overhead.

Reports from the official Palestinian news agency Wafa and Egyptian media indicated Israeli military vehicles moving toward the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing with Egypt and the Karem Shalom crossing with Israeli-occupied territories.

Sources, including a Palestinian security official and an Egyptian authority, informed the Associated Press that Israeli tanks had penetrated Rafah, coming as close as 200 meters from the border crossing with Egypt.

The Israeli military stated it was conducting "targeted strikes" against Hamas in eastern Rafah. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office claimed that Israel would continue its operation in Rafah to exert military pressure on Hamas, aiming to advance the release of captives and other objectives of the war.

Although Netanyahu's office deemed the ceasefire proposal as falling short of Israel's essential demands, it expressed willingness to send negotiators for talks to explore the possibility of reaching an agreement.

The military strikes on Rafah preceded scheduled talks in Egypt aimed at finalizing a truce proposal endorsed by Hamas, facilitated by Qatari and Egyptian mediators.

According to the proposal, the ceasefire process would unfold in three phases, involving the complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Netzarim corridor, the return of displaced Palestinians to their homes, and a permanent cessation of military operations. In the final phase, the blockade of the Gaza Strip would be lifted.

In exchange, Israel would release an unspecified number of Palestinian prisoners, withdraw its troops from designated areas of the Gaza Strip, and permit Palestinian movement from the south to the north of the coastal enclave.

Rafah, once designated as a "safe zone" by the Israeli military, is currently home to approximately 1.5 million Palestinians who now face challenges evacuating the city following Israeli military warnings via dropped leaflets signaling an impending large-scale assault.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres denounced the possibility of a ground invasion of Rafah as "intolerable," urging all sides to make additional efforts to reach a truce agreement.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi cautioned that Israel's bombing of Rafah could jeopardize the ceasefire deal.

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