War in the Middle East: Egypt rejects reports on Rafah crossing

War in the Middle East: Egypt rejects reports on Rafah crossing

The Rafah border crossing is vital for civilians in Gaza. Because of Israel’s advance, no more help has come from Egypt. The news at a glance.

Egypt has denied reports of an agreement to reopen the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip, according to Egyptian state-run Al-Kahira News. Citing a high-ranking, unnamed source, the TV channel said media reports of such an agreement between Egypt and Israel were false. “Egypt insists on a complete Israeli withdrawal from the crossing as a condition for resuming its operations,” it said.

The Israeli Kan broadcaster reported on Thursday evening that the two countries had agreed to reopen the border crossing for the transport of humanitarian aid. The agreement was reached under pressure from the USA, it said. The border crossing to Egypt in the city in the south of the coastal region was closed a good three weeks ago after the Israeli army took over the Palestinian side.

According to the broadcaster, however, Israel agreed to comply with Egypt’s condition for reopening and to withdraw its troops from the border crossing. In future, control could therefore be taken over by Palestinians who have no links to Hamas or other terrorist groups.

USA, Israel and Egypt want to talk about border security

According to information from the US news portal Axios, delegations from the three countries are expected to discuss this in the Egyptian capital Cairo in the coming days. A delegation from the US government led by the director for the Middle East in the White House National Security Council, Terry Wolff, also wants to talk at the meeting in Cairo about preventing the smuggling of weapons for the Islamist Hamas through tunnels beneath the border. An underground wall is planned for this purpose.

Israel’s army says it has taken control of the entire section of the border with Egypt in recent days. There are around 20 tunnels leading to Egypt in the approximately 14-kilometer-long sector, it said. The information could not be independently verified at this time. Hamas has used the border area known as the Philadelphia Corridor to smuggle weapons, an army spokesman said.

To prevent this from happening in the future, the US news portal reported that the construction of an underground wall is being considered – similar to the barrier that Israel has built on its border with the Gaza Strip. In this way, Israel has prevented most of Hamas’ attempts to dig cross-border tunnels in the past.

Reports: Palestinians to control Rafah crossing

According to US officials, the talks planned in Cairo will primarily focus on how to reopen the Rafah border crossing, according to Axios. According to broadcaster Kan, Israel agreed to meet an Egyptian condition and withdraw its troops from the border crossing.

Axios also reported that Israel had presented Egypt with a plan whereby Palestinians who have no ties to Hamas or other terrorist groups could take control of the crossing point. Israel’s troops would then withdraw and secure the crossing from outside against attacks by Hamas. Aid transports from Egypt were stopped two weeks ago in protest against Israel’s takeover of the Palestinian side of the crossing.

In a conversation with US President Joe Biden, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi agreed to reopen the Kerem Shalom border crossing near Rafah for humanitarian aid. During the conversation, Biden promised his Egyptian counterpart that the US would work to reopen the Rafah border crossing as soon as possible once aid deliveries to Gaza resumed, Axios reported.

At the same time, they agreed to discuss this issue with the Israelis in Cairo. In the Gaza war, the USA and Egypt, together with Qatar, are acting as mediators between Israel and Hamas in the indirect negotiations on a ceasefire and hostage release.

Hamas wants hostage agreement only at the end of the war

Meanwhile, Hamas has said it has told the mediators that it will only return to the negotiating table for talks on a hostage deal if Israel stops fighting. The terrorist organization said it was ready for a “full agreement” on the release of the hostages kidnapped from Israel in exchange for Palestinian prisoners.

However, the prerequisite is an end to the war. In that case, they are prepared to continue negotiations and reach a “comprehensive exchange agreement”. Israel’s government, however, categorically rejects an end to the war.

The Islamists left open what is meant by a complete agreement. It is conceivable that an exchange of all hostages for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons should take place at once – and not in several phases as previously planned.

According to Israeli media, Israel’s national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi told relatives of the hostages that the current government was not prepared to end the war. Indirect talks on an agreement had already failed in the past because Hamas had made the final end of the war by Israel a condition for even a partial release of the hostages.

Israel’s army: Operation in Jabalia in the Gaza Strip ended

Israel’s army has reportedly ended its deployment in Jabalia in the north of the Gaza Strip, which lasted several weeks. The army announced that the mission in the east of the city had been completed. Hundreds of terrorists were reportedly killed in close combat and air strikes, among other things. The information could not be independently verified at this time. According to Palestinian reports, the Israeli attacks in Jabalia also claimed many civilian victims.

According to the army, the bodies of seven Israelis who were abducted in the Gaza Strip on October 7 during the Islamist Hamas terror attack were found during operations on the ground in recent weeks. The military also destroyed a good ten kilometers of tunnels and found hundreds of weapons and several weapons production sites. This information could not initially be independently verified either.

Heavy fighting has been raging in Jabalia in recent weeks. According to the newspaper “Times of Israel”, a total of ten Israeli soldiers were killed. Local residents confirmed that the army had withdrawn from the city. Many have now returned to the town to look after their homes.

The army had already taken over Jabalia and then withdrew from the town. Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi recently complained that, due to the lack of a political strategy for the post-war period, the army was repeatedly forced to fight in places in the Gaza Strip from which it had already withdrawn. He cited Jabalia as an example.

Palestinians: One dead and injured in the West Bank

According to Palestinian sources, a man was killed during operations by the Israeli army in the West Bank. He died in Ramallah from a shot to the chest, according to the local health ministry. Four other Palestinians were reportedly injured in confrontations during a raid, one of them seriously. The information could not be independently verified.

When asked, Israel’s military said it was investigating the reports. According to Palestinian sources, several people were also injured in the refugee quarter in Jenin. When asked, Israel’s army said that Israeli security forces had carried out anti-terror measures in the area. Palestinians had thrown explosives and stones at them and fired shots. The security forces had fired back.

Since the start of the Gaza war following the massacre by Hamas and other extremist groups in Israel on October 7 last year, which left more than 1,200 people dead, the already tense situation in the West Bank has become even more serious. According to the local health ministry, at least 498 Palestinians have been killed since then in Israeli military operations, confrontations or attacks. There has also been an increase in violent attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinians.

Source: Stern

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