Israel Rejects Hamas Ceasefire Proposal as Aggression Escalates in Gaza

Israel rejects international mediators' ceasefire proposal, leading Hamas to reassess its negotiation strategy. The breakdown in talks coincides with an escalation of Israeli military aggression in Gaza, resulting in dozens of Palestinian deaths.

Bijay Laxmi
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Israel Rejects Hamas Ceasefire Proposal as Aggression Escalates in Gaza

Israel Rejects Hamas Ceasefire Proposal as Aggression Escalates in Gaza

Efforts to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas have reached an impasse after Israel effectively rejected a proposal put forth by international mediators, according to a statement released by Hamas on Friday. The Palestinian group said Israel's amendments to the proposal have brought the negotiations back to square one.

Why this matters: The failure to reach a ceasefire agreement has devastating consequences for the people of Gaza, with the escalation of violence leading to a humanitarian crisis. The breakdown in talks also has broader implications for regional stability and the prospects for a lasting peace in the Middle East.

In response, Hamas announced it will hold consultations with Palestinian factions to review its negotiation strategy. "Israel's rejection of the mediators' proposal through the amendments it made returned things to the first square," said Mousa Abu Marzouk, a member of Hamas's political leadership.

The breakdown in talks comes amidst an escalation of Israeli military aggression in the southern Gaza Strip, particularly in the city of Rafah. The Israel Defense Forces have intensified operations in central Gaza, killing dozens of Palestinians in strikes on Friday night and into the overnight hours, according to hospitals in the area.

Approximately 300,000 people have fled Rafah as the military steps upoperationsahead of an anticipated ground invasion. The IDF says 300,000 Gazans have moved towards the Humanitarian Area in Al Mawasi, on the coast north of Rafah, as a result of the "current temporary evacuation" from the southernmost Gazan city.

The military launched its ground assault into Rafah on Monday night, erecting Israeli flags along Gaza's border with Egypt and effectively closing Gaza's main crossing for aid and fuel. Hamas accused Israel of using the negotiations as a cover for the attack on Rafah and the occupation of the crossing, while continuing the "genocide against our people."

The escalation has taken a devastating toll on journalists in Gaza. The Government Media Office reports that the number of journalists killed since October 7 has risen to 143, after the death of photojournalist Bahaa Okasha overnight. The Committee to Protect Journalists has recorded the deaths of at least 97 journalists and media workers, with 92 of them being Palestinian.

Since the outbreak of the conflict on October 7, when Hamas and other militants attacked southern Israel and captured hostages, 34,971 people have been killed in Gaza and 78,641 injured, according to the Ministry of Health. The IDF says it has been targeting Hamas in eastern Rafah and intensified activity in the Zeitoun area of central Gaza, which saw heavy bombardments overnight.

The failure to reach a ceasefire agreement centered on key obstacles, including Hamas's demand for a permanent truce and complete Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, while Israel insists it cannot end the war as long as Hamas's rule in Gaza remains intact. The two sides also differed on the number of hostages to be freed in the first phase of a deal. Hamas wants to release a smaller number initially, while Israel demanded the release of 40 captives, including old, ill, women and civilian detainees.

Palestinian armed groups still hold approximately 132 hostages in Gaza, with at least 36 confirmed dead by Israeli authorities. The latest round of indirect talks in Egypt ended without a deal, but US, Egyptian, and Qatari teams are still holding further discussions. However, Israel's Foreign Affairs Minister Israel Katz condemned the passing of a UN General Assembly resolution on Friday calling for the Security Council to reconsider UN membership for the Palestinian Authority.