Israel Warns Egypt of "Last Chance" for Hamas Hostage Deal Before Rafah Offensive

Israel issues ultimatum to Egypt: Secure Hamas hostage deal or face Rafah offensive. Negotiations stall over number of hostages to be released, with Egypt concerned over potential refugee crisis.

Shivani Chauhan
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Israel Warns Egypt of "Last Chance" for Hamas Hostage Deal Before Rafah Offensive

Israel Warns Egypt of "Last Chance" for Hamas Hostage Deal Before Rafah Offensive

Israel has issued a stern warning to Egypt, saying that it is giving the ongoing negotiations to secure a hostage deal with Hamas a "last chance" before launching a ground offensive in Rafah, the southern city of Gaza. Discussions between Israeli officials and a high-level Egyptian delegation about the country's feared and anticipated offensive in Rafah and efforts to reach a hostage agreement with Hamas have come to an end.

The negotiations were described as "very good, focused, held in good spirits and progressed in all parameters." However, disagreements over fundamental objectives have prevented Hamas and Israel from coming to an agreement, even after months of negotiations facilitated by Qatar and Egypt. The talks focused on the number of hostages that Hamas would release and the duration of a ceasefire agreement.

Israel is willing to settle for the release of fewer than the 40 living hostages proposed by Hamas, but will not agree to only 20 hostages being released. Israel is insisting that all 33 living hostages who meet the "humanitarian" designation be freed, and the duration of the ceasefire will be linked to the number of hostages released. Hamas has received a counterproposal from Israel and stated it would study the proposal thoroughly before sending a reply, while continuing to stand on its demand that Israel should end its assault in Gaza.

Why this matters: The escalating tensions between Israel and Hamas have raised concerns about a potential humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The international community is closely watching the negotiations, as the outcome could have significant implications for regional stability and the lives of civilians on both sides of the conflict.

The intention to carry out a significant offensive in Rafah has run into strong international resistance, especially from the US, which has voiced doubts over Israel's intentions to conduct operations in the southernmost city of Gaza. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated that there could be no victory without an operation in the city, and that Israel is constantly working to achieve our goal, primarily releasing all of our hostages and achieving total victory over Hamas."

Egypt is concerned about a potential influx of Palestinian refugees from Gaza if the war continues, and has taken an increasingly active role in the negotiations. An Egyptian delegation met with Israeli counterparts on Friday to restart talks to end the war in Gaza and return the remaining Israeli hostages. "The Egyptians are increasingly concerned about a possible Israeli military operation in Rafah and are making a last-minute push for a hostage deal that would lead to a ceasefire in Gaza and stop an invasion," an unnamed Israeli official stated.

Key Takeaways

  • Israel warns Egypt it will launch Rafah offensive without hostage deal with Hamas.
  • Negotiations between Israel, Hamas, and Egypt stall over number of hostages to be released.
  • Israel demands release of all 33 "humanitarian" hostages, Hamas wants fewer released.
  • Egypt concerned about potential refugee influx, pushes for last-minute hostage deal to avoid war.
  • Outcome of negotiations could have significant implications for regional stability and civilian lives.