Top Trending News

US, Israel hold new talks over Israeli Rafah invasion plan

[ad_1]

In a reversal, Israel agreed on Wednesday to send its war strategists to Washington to discuss plans to launch a ground attack against Hamas militants in the southern Gaza town of Rafah.

On Monday, Israel canceled the trip to protest the US refusal to veto a UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas.

The United States, Israel’s staunchest ally in the nearly six-month-old war, abstained from the UN vote this week after vetoing similar resolutions earlier. That prompted a rebuke from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, evidence of a growing division with Washington over the Jewish state’s conduct of the war.

But even as Netanyahu canceled the trip of a group of his war strategists, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant was in Washington this week for talks with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

FILE - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs a Cabinet meeting at the Kirya military base, which houses the Israeli Defense Ministry, in Tel Aviv, Israel, December 24, 2023. FILE – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs a Cabinet meeting at the Kirya military base, which houses the Israeli Defense Ministry, in Tel Aviv, Israel, December 24, 2023.

Netanyahu said an attack in Rafah was necessary to erase all Hamas control over Gaza, the narrow enclave along the Mediterranean Sea. But the United States has told Israel it is opposed to an invasion of Rafah, especially since more than a million Palestinian civilians are sheltered there in tents and makeshift structures.

Israel said it would bring Palestinians to safety before any attack on four Hamas battalions based in Rafah, but it did not indicate where it would send them.

While saying the US abstention was “very, very bad”, Netanyahu told visiting US Republican Senator Rick Scott that his initial cancellation of the Israeli delegation’s trip “was first and foremost a message to Hamas: don’t bet on this (UN). ) pressure (for a ceasefire). It will not work.”

Netanyahu said the Security Council vote “encouraged Hamas to take a hard line and believe that international pressure will prevent Israel” from achieving its war goals. Israel has vowed to continue fighting until the Hamas army is destroyed and the remaining 100 hostages it is holding are freed.

The White House said it was “a good thing” to hold more discussions with Israeli officials and that a date was being discussed.

People gather on the rubble of a paramedical center destroyed by an Israeli airstrike in the village of Hebbariye, Lebanon, March 27, 2024. The airstrike on the center, which was linked to a Lebanese Sunni Muslim group, killed several members of the group. People gather on the rubble of a paramedical center destroyed by an Israeli airstrike in the village of Hebbariye, Lebanon, March 27, 2024. The airstrike on the center, which was linked to a Lebanese Sunni Muslim group, killed several members of the group.

Hezbollah rocket strikes

On the war front, Hezbollah militants in Lebanon launched rockets into northern Israel on Wednesday in retaliation for Israeli airstrikes that killed seven people in southern Lebanon.

Israeli emergency services said one person was killed by a rocket strike in the border town of Kiryat Shmona.

The Israeli military said its strikes in Lebanon targeted a military building, killing a member of the al-Jamaa al-Islamiya militant group who had encouraged terrorist plots against Israel.

An al-Jamaa al-Islamiya official said seven people were killed in the village of Hebbariye, with Lebanese security sources confirming the toll.

The Israeli military also reported on Wednesday that it carried out ground operations near Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza, while carrying out airstrikes and ground fighting in the Khan Younis area of ​​southern Gaza.

Smoke billows after Israeli bombing near Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, March 23, 2024, amid fighting between Israel and the Hamas militant group. Smoke billows after Israeli bombing near Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, March 23, 2024, amid fighting between Israel and the Hamas militant group.

Efforts to temporarily stop the fighting, with proposals including the release of hostages held in Gaza and an increase in humanitarian aid to Palestinian civilians, appeared no closer to reality, even after the UN Security Council resolution. the UN last Friday demanding a ceasefire.

Indirect talks involving negotiators from the United States, Egypt and Qatar have been going on for weeks, and although officials have reported some progress during the process, the Israeli and Hamas sides this week showed no movement towards an agreement.

A senior Israeli official told Reuters on Tuesday that Israel had withdrawn its negotiators from Qatar after reaching “an impasse” in negotiations to free hostages still held by Hamas. Israel estimates that more than 30 other Israelis caught in the shock of Hamas’ attack on Israel on October 7 died or were killed. Netanyahu said Hamas was making “illusory demands.”

Hamas officials said Monday that they had told negotiators that Hamas would not change its proposal, which includes a complete Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and an exchange of hostages held in Gaza for prisoners held by Israel.

In Tel Aviv, about 300 family members of the hostages and their supporters gathered in front of the Israeli defense headquarters on Tuesday, demanding that a deal be reached on the release of the hostages. Some protesters locked themselves in cages and held up signs with photos of their loved ones.

The Hamas attack on October 7 killed 1,200 people and led to the capture of around 250 hostages. More than 100 people were freed in November during a week-long ceasefire.

The Health Ministry in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip says more than 32,400 people have been killed in the Israeli counter-offensive. That total includes Hamas fighters and civilians, with the ministry saying two-thirds of the dead were women and children.

VOA U.N. correspondent Margaret Besheer and White House correspondent Anita Powell contributed to this report. Some information in this report comes from the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

  • 16x9 picture 16x9 picture

    VOA News

    The Voice of America provides news and information in more than 40 languages ​​to an estimated weekly audience of more than 326 million people. Articles bearing the VOA News byline are the work of several VOA journalists and may contain information from wire service reports.

[ad_2]

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button