War in the Middle East: Israel continues Rafah offensive – with or without hostages

War in the Middle East: Israel continues Rafah offensive – with or without hostages

Will Hamas’ Islamists agree to a deal before Israel invades the city of Rafah? Whether a deal or not – Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has already made his decision. The news at a glance.

According to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s announced offensive in Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip will take place with or without a hostage deal with Hamas. At a meeting with relatives of Israeli hostages and fallen soldiers, Netanyahu said, according to his office: “We will go into Rafah and destroy the Hamas battalions there – with a deal or without a deal.”

The head of government also said: “The idea that we stop the war before all its goals have been achieved is out of the question.” The goal remains “total victory” over the Islamist terrorist organization Hamas. His interlocutors called on him to achieve the war goals and withstand international pressure.

In the renewed attempt to reach a ceasefire in the Gaza war, the negotiating partners are hoping that the Islamist Hamas will give in in view of Israel’s impending offensive in Rafah. US President Joe Biden called on Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani to “make every effort to secure the release of the hostages held by Hamas,” the statement said White House with. This is the only obstacle to a ceasefire.

According to British Foreign Minister David Cameron, Hamas had an offer for a 40-day ceasefire. According to media reports, after talks in Cairo, the Hamas delegation left the venue and wanted to return with an answer. According to the Times of Israel, an Israeli delegation is expected to arrive in Cairo today.

White House: Hamas must accept hostage deal

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is currently traveling again in the region, spoke of a “very, very generous” proposal from Israel. Biden’s spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre called on Hamas to agree to this. “In recent days there has been new progress in the talks and at the moment the onus is actually on Hamas. There is an offer on the table and they must accept it,” she said.

Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) emphasizes that the release of the hostages depends solely on the terrorist organization. “It is now solely in the hands of Hamas – the Hamas leader in Gaza – that the hostages are finally released,” Baerbock said on Deutschlandfunk.

Israeli media had previously reported that the proposal included the release of 33 hostages held by Hamas. In return, Israel intends to release several hundred Palestinian prisoners from prison. Cameron even said today that “potentially thousands” of Palestinians could be released in a deal.

When asked whether possible arrest warrants from the International Criminal Court against Netanyahu could torpedo negotiations on a ceasefire, the White House responded evasively. They do not support the investigation and are also convinced that the criminal court in The Hague – which is not recognized by the USA – has no legal jurisdiction, said spokeswoman Jean-Pierre and left it at that.

Israeli media had previously reported that Netanyahu feared that chief prosecutor Karim Khan could issue international arrest warrants for him, his Defense Minister Joav Galant and Chief of General Staff Herzi Halevi this week. The Criminal Court has been investigating Hamas and Israel since 2021 for alleged war crimes in the Gaza Strip.

Again protests in Israel

Meanwhile, in Israel, several thousand people demonstrated in Tel Aviv last night for a negotiated solution to release the Israeli hostages held by Hamas. “Rafah can wait – she can’t,” read one banner at the rally, according to Israeli media reports.

Relatives of hostages also spoke at the demonstration, calling on the government to reach a ceasefire and bring the hostages back. According to media reports, there were clashes with the police on the sidelines. A water cannon was used and five arrests were made. According to the Times of Israel, opponents of a deal with Hamas threatened to go on hunger strike unless the army marched into the city of Rafah, as had been announced for months.

Preliminary decision in legal proceedings against Germany

The International Court of Justice will make a preliminary decision today in the proceedings surrounding Nicaragua’s lawsuit against Germany for alleged complicity in the genocide in the Gaza Strip. The United Nations’ highest court in The Hague is initially only deciding on an urgent application from Nicaragua, which, among other things, had called for a stop to arms deliveries.

The country argues that German arms exports to Israel are enabling genocide. Germany rejected the lawsuit as baseless. The judges are not yet deciding on the actual lawsuit for aiding and abetting genocide. This will only be the focus of the main proceedings, which could drag on for years. Decisions of the court are binding.

Source: Stern

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