‘No-Brainer’ Gaza Peace Talks Not Going Well.

Photo by Ahmed AlShawaf on Unsplash The city of Rafah in southern Gaza could be the next target for Israel as it attempts to flush out Hamas fighters.
- Advertisement -

Peace talks about a truce and hostage exchange described by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken as a ‘no brainer’ for Hamas seem not be going well. At least that is the impression given to reporters in Egypt, where the talks are taking place, as Hamas negotiators have left the table.

Negotiators on both sides have been trying to find a breakthrough in cease-fire talks aimed at bringing a temporary halt in fighting and the release of hostages still held by Hamas in Gaza.

After no apparent progress was reported Sunday in talks with Qatari and Egyptian mediators, the Hamas delegation left Cairo to consult with its leadership and said it planned to return to Cairo Tuesday.

Earlier, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said that group wants a comprehensive cease-fire that would end Israeli “aggression” and guarantee Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, while Hamas frees about 100 hostages in exchange for hundreds of prisoners jailed by Israel.

In a statement, Haniyeh blamed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for “the continuation of the aggression and the expansion of the circle of conflict, and sabotaging the efforts made through the mediators and various parties” who have for weeks been unsuccessful in negotiating a cease-fire of any sort.

In Jerusalem, Netanyahu rejected any end to the fighting that would leave Hamas in control of Gaza and pose a continuing threat to the Jewish state. Essentially the position of Israel is that either Hamas must surrender, or else all its fighters will be killed.

Egyptian sources said U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns, who has also been involved in previous truce talks, arrived in Cairo on Friday. The United States — which, like other Western powers and Israel, brands Hamas a terrorist group — has urged Hamas to enter a deal.

Israeli media reported that Burns, a main mediator in the talks, would meet with Netanyahu Monday.

The war was triggered by the October 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel that killed 1,200 people and led to the capture of about 250 hostages, according to Israeli officials. About 100 of the hostages were freed in a weeklong truce in late November.

Israel’s ensuring counteroffensive in Gaza has killed more than 34,600 Palestinians, about two-thirds of them women and children, according to the Gaza health ministry.

Israel’s military said Monday that people in eastern parts of Rafah should go to what the military called an expanded humanitarian area that now includes Khan Younis, in a move that comes ahead of a planned Israeli offensive in Rafah.

An IDF spokesperson, posting on social media in Arabic, said the Israeli military will act forcefully against terrorist organizations in Rafah, and that anyone who is in the area will be putting their lives at risk.

Israel is preparing a “limited scope operation” in Rafah, a military spokesperson said, and an estimated 100,000 people were being asked to leave the evacuation area.

The purpose of the attack would be to eliminate the remaining Hamas troops who are believed to be holed up in the Rafah area.

Israel has previously issued such warnings amid its campaign to eliminate the Hamas militant group in the Gaza Strip. Many of the Palestinians in Rafah traveled there seeking shelter after Israel warned them to flee other parts of Gaza.

Maps provided by the Israeli military previously showed a humanitarian zone along the Gaza coast west of Khan Younis. Monday’s announcement expanded that area both to the north along the coast, as well as east to include Khan Younis.

Israel has said an offensive in Rafah is necessary to defeat Hamas, while the United States, United Nations and others have warned of a potential humanitarian catastrophe if Israel carries out a large-scale attack in the area where more than half of Gaza’s population is sheltering.

Source: VOA.
- Advertisement -