No offensive on Rafah yet: Israel sees signs of a new hostage deal with Hamas

No offensive on Rafah yet
Israel sees signs of new hostage deal with Hamas

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Israel is still hesitant to launch a large-scale offensive on the border town of Rafah in the Gaza Strip. Negotiations are still underway behind the scenes with Hamas about the release of more hostages from the terrorists’ hands.

Israeli Minister Benny Gantz is reportedly seeing the first signs of a new hostage deal with Hamas. If the agreement does not come about, Israel is ready to begin its offensive in the city of Rafah in the Gaza Strip, said the minister in the war cabinet, according to several Israeli media. However, he did not give any specific details.

Egypt, Qatar and the USA are currently making renewed efforts to bring about a longer ceasefire in the Gaza war. As part of an agreement, the hostages still held in the Gaza Strip will be exchanged for Palestinian prisoners in Israel in several phases. Negotiations are currently underway with Hamas regarding an agreement in Cairo. According to Israeli media, there will also be a meeting of high-level mediators in Paris on Friday.

During a week-long ceasefire last November, 105 hostages were released in return for 240 Palestinian prisoners as part of an agreement between Israel and Hamas. According to Israeli information, at most around 100 of the remaining hostages are still alive. On October 7, 2023, Hamas kidnapped a total of around 240 hostages in the Gaza Strip.

Israel is currently preparing a military offensive on the city of Rafah, which borders Egypt, in order to take action against the Islamist Hamas there too. Hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people have sought protection in the town in the south of the Palestinian territory. The plans to expand Israeli operations in the overcrowded city have met with great international criticism.

According to a report, from a US perspective, the planned offensive will most likely not begin before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. An attack on Rafah during Ramadan, which begins around March 10 this year, could be seen as particularly provocative by Muslims across the region.

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