Israel and Hamas at war, day 215 | Netanyahu, CIA chief discuss ‘pause’ in Rafah operation

(Rafah) The Israeli prime minister and the head of the CIA discussed in Jerusalem on Wednesday a possible “pause” in military operations in the southern Gaza Strip in exchange for the release of hostages, an Israeli official said .

What there is to know

  • According to Egyptian media, there is a resumption in Cairo of negotiations for a truce “in the presence of all parties”;
  • Israel announces the reopening of the Kerem Shalom crossing to bring in “humanitarian aid”;
  • Qatar calls on international community to prevent “genocide” in Rafah;
  • Washington suspends bomb delivery to Israel over “concerns” over Rafah.

Benjamin Netanyahu met William Burns in Jerusalem while an Israeli delegation is participating in Cairo in indirect negotiations with Hamas on a proposed truce in the Gaza Strip, including the release of Palestinian detainees from Israeli prisons in exchange for hostages kidnapped on October 7 by the Palestinian movement during its bloody attack in southern Israel.

“The discussions are over” between MM. Netanyahu and Burns who “discussed the possibility of Israel pausing its (military) operations in Rafah”, a town in the south of the Gaza Strip, “in exchange for the release of hostages”, declared this Israeli official having requested anonymity.

The Israeli army carried out airstrikes on Wednesday and said it was continuing its “targeted” ground operations in Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip.

On Tuesday, the army deployed tanks into Rafah and took control of the border crossing with Egypt, cutting off the main gateway for humanitarian aid convoys to the besieged Palestinian territory.


Israeli soldiers on the Gaza border.

Before this deployment, the army had called on Monday tens of thousands of families to evacuate several neighborhoods in the east of this city, as part of its plans to “dismantle Hamas”, in power in Gaza since 2007, author October 7 on Israeli soil of a bloody attack which started the war.

Israeli soldiers continued their “targeted operations on the Gaza side of the eastern Rafah crossing on Wednesday based on reports of terrorists operating in the area,” the army said.

“Several terrorists were eliminated during clashes” since the day before, while soldiers discovered and destroyed “tunnel openings,” she added.

“We are very afraid”

The air force, according to the army, struck “more than 100 targets” of armed groups across the territory.

During the night, injured people and bodies were removed in Rafah from the rubble of homes destroyed by the bombings, in front of crying residents.

“We are very afraid. The occupying army continues to indiscriminately fire shells at neighborhoods in eastern Rafah, in addition to intensifying airstrikes,” said 29-year-old resident Mouhanad Ahmad Qishta. .


Map and satellite images from Planet Labs PBC showing locations where Israeli army vehicles were parked around Kerem Shalom, a crossing point between Gaza and Israel, as of May 3.

“Even areas presented as safe by the Israeli army are bombarded,” he added.

The war broke out on October 7 when Hamas commandos infiltrated from the Gaza Strip carried out an attack against Israel, unprecedented in the history of this country, which left more than 1,170 dead, mainly civilians, according to a report. from AFP established from official Israeli data.


Map of the south of the Gaza Strip showing in particular the eastern area of ​​Rafah where Israel launched an operation to evacuate residents to a “humanitarian zone” on Monday, May 6.

More than 250 people have been kidnapped and 128 remain captive in Gaza, of whom 36 are believed to have died, according to the army.

In response, the Israeli army launched an offensive which has so far left 34,844 dead, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health, including 55 in 24 hours.


Under pressure from the United States, its main ally, Israel announced on Wednesday the reopening of the Kerem Shalom crossing, near Rafah, closed since Sunday after Hamas rocket fire which killed four soldiers.

Trucks from Egypt carrying food, water and medicine have arrived in Kerem Shalom and are due to enter the Gaza Strip after inspection.

A second crossing from Israel, that of Erez, from where aid is transferred to northern Gaza, continues to operate, according to the army.

The UN said on Tuesday that it only had one day of fuel reserves left for humanitarian operations in Gaza, and called for the crossings to be reopened.

Hospitals in southern Gaza had only “three days of fuel” left on Wednesday, “which means they could soon stop functioning,” warned the director general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Washington has deemed the closure of the crossing points “unacceptable”, while the population of Gaza is threatened with famine, according to the UN.

The United States also “suspended the delivery of a shipment” of bombs to Israel after the country’s lack of response to its “concerns” about an offensive in Rafah, a US official said.

“Decisive round”

In Cairo, indirect negotiations resumed on Wednesday, according to media close to the Egyptian authorities, to try to reach a compromise on a truce and avoid an assault in Rafah, where the UN said it feared a “bloodbath”.

Qatar, for its part, called on the international community to act to prevent a “genocide” in Rafah.

Representatives of Israel and Hamas, as well as the mediating countries – Qatar, Egypt and the United States – are present in the Egyptian capital.

Palestinian analyst Mkhaimar Abusada of Gaza’s Al-Azhar University said the timing of Israel’s takeover of the Rafah crossing “could show it is trying to sabotage the talks.” “This takeover is also a symbol shown to the world that Hamas no longer has control,” he added.

On Monday, a few hours before the deployment of Israeli troops in Rafah, Hamas gave the green light to a proposal presented by the mediators.

This, according to a leader of the movement, Khalil al-Hayya, includes a truce in three phases, each lasting 42 days, including an Israeli withdrawal from the territory as well as an exchange of hostages held in Gaza and Palestinians detained by Israel, with the aim of a “permanent ceasefire”.

Israel responded that this proposal was “far from its demands” and reiterated its opposition to a definitive ceasefire as long as Hamas, which it considers a terrorist organization along with the United States and the European Union , would not be defeated.

On Wednesday, a Hamas official again insisted on “the legitimate demands” of the Palestinians and spoke of a “decisive round” in Cairo.

Benjamin Netanyahu indicated that he had instructed his delegation to “continue to be firm on the conditions necessary for the release” of the hostages and “essential” to the security of Israel.

“This could be the last chance” for Israel “to recover the captives (…) alive,” according to a Hamas official.


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