World

MIDDLE EAST CRISIS UPDATE: 7 MAY 2024

Israel rejects Hamas’ acceptance of truce deal; Biden, Netanyahu meet as IDF orders Rafah evacuation

Israel rejects Hamas’ acceptance of truce deal; Biden, Netanyahu meet as IDF orders Rafah evacuation
Palestinians leave Rafah, Gaza, 6 May 2024, after the Israeli army warned of imminent military operations. (Photo: Ahmad Salem / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Hamas said it had agreed to a ceasefire proposal put forward by Qatar and Egypt to halt fighting with Israel in Gaza. However, Israel rejected Hamas’ acceptance, saying its forces would continue their operation in Rafah to eradicate the Palestinian militant group.

President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on Monday as Israel’s military urged civilians to move out of the southern Gazan city of Rafah, according to US and Israeli officials. 

Harvard University interim president Alan Garber told protesters that they needed to end their encampment in Harvard Yard or face consequences, including suspension, amid continuing tensions on campus as commencement approaches.

Israel rejects Hamas’ acceptance of Gaza ceasefire proposal 

Hamas said it had agreed to a ceasefire proposal put forward by Qatar and Egypt to halt fighting with Israel in Gaza. However, Israel rejected Hamas’ acceptance, saying its forces would continue their operation in Rafah to eradicate the Palestinian militant group.

Even so, Israel would send a delegation to join mediators “to exhaust the possibility of reaching an agreement under conditions acceptable to Israel”, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement. 

The head of Hamas’ political office, Ismail Haniyeh, informed Qatar’s prime minister and Egypt’s head of intelligence of the acceptance, according to a statement posted on Telegram.  

Hamas and Israel have been negotiating indirectly via Qatar, Egypt and the US on an agreement that would see the release of Israeli hostages held in Gaza in exchange for Palestinians detained in Israeli jails. It would also include a pause in fighting.  

Biden, Netanyahu speak as Israel tells Gazans to leave Rafah

President Joe Biden and Netanyahu spoke on Monday as Israel’s military urged civilians to move out of the southern Gazan city of Rafah, according to US and Israeli officials. 

The discussion came hours after Israel’s military told Palestinians to move out of parts of the city where more than a million people are sheltering. Israel Defense Forces conducted air strikes early on Monday morning, but the warning prompted speculation Israel was readying long-expected ground operations.

The US has made clear its opposition to a major ground invasion of Rafah to the Israeli government, according to a White House National Security Council spokesperson, who confirmed the call between the two leaders. The leaders spoke for about 30 minutes, according to an Israeli official.

Large numbers of people began leaving Rafah following Israel’s warning, though it was unclear how long it would take for the bulk of civilians to leave. Israeli officials privately say it could take weeks, while the US has expressed doubts that it can be done safely.

Netanyahu has for months said civilians in Rafah would be moved out before any attack. There are around 1.4 million in the city, most of whom fled there after the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war in October.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) “will act with extreme force against terrorist organisations in your areas of residence”, a spokesperson said on X on Monday morning. He urged residents of eastern Rafah to go north to an “expanded humanitarian area” near Khan Younis, another city in Gaza.

Most Arab and many European states have said Israel should not attack the city, fearing it would lead to mass civilian casualties and worsen the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Many civilians may choose to remain in Rafah if they’re unsure of the conditions where they’re being told to go. Much of the Gaza Strip, including Khan Younis, has been destroyed by Israeli air strikes since the war began on 7 October. Hamas, considered a terrorist organisation by the US and European Union, may also prevent some of them from leaving.

The IDF said it was working on the expansion of field hospitals in the “humanitarian area” and would ensure tents, food, water and medication were available.

Israel says Rafah is the last bastion of Hamas, with about 5,000 to 8,000 of its fighters and senior leaders lodged in the city, as well as many Israeli hostages.

Shortly after the IDF’s announcement, residents in Rafah got calls with pre-recorded messages asking them to evacuate to the designated area.

The military dropped leaflets too.

“The IDF is about to operate with force against the terror organisations in the area you currently reside,” one of them read in Arabic, according to the military. “Anyone in the area puts themselves and their family members in danger. For your safety, evacuate immediately.”

The United Nations relief agency that helps Palestinians, known as UNRWA, said an attack on Rafah would be “devastating” and “would mean more civilian suffering and deaths.”

The IDF said 100,000 people fell under its “evacuation order” and the operation was limited in scope. One Israeli official said it would probably last for about two weeks.

The war erupted when Hamas attacked southern Israel from Gaza, killing 1,200 people and taking 250 hostage. Israel’s bombardment and ground attack on the Palestinian territory have killed almost 35,000 people, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

The war has roiled the wider Middle East, with other Iranian proxy groups attacking US bases in Syria, Iraq and Jordan. The Houthis, based in Yemen, are assaulting ships around the Red Sea, while Hezbollah in Lebanon is trading fire with Israel daily, with fears their skirmishes could escalate into war.

Iran also directly attacked Israel for the first time last month with a mass of drones and missiles, almost all of which were intercepted. Israel reacted with a limited bombing of an Iranian air base. 

On Sunday, Israeli fighter jets struck a Hezbollah military site in the area of Safri in northeast Lebanon. Hezbollah responded by firing several rockets toward Israel.

Harvard issues ultimatum to protesters over encampment

Harvard University interim president Alan Garber told protesters that they needed to end their encampment in Harvard Yard or face consequences, including suspension, amid continuing tensions on campus as commencement approaches.

“The continuation of the encampment presents a significant risk to the educational environment of the University,” Garber wrote in a statement on Monday. “Those who participate in or perpetuate its continuation will be referred for involuntary leave from their Schools.”

Universities from the East Coast to California are cracking down after weeks of escalating protests spurred by the Israel-Hamas war. New York’s Columbia University cancelled its main commencement ceremony after ordering a police raid last week in which more than 100 protesters were arrested, including dozens who had occupied a campus building. DM

Read more in Daily Maverick: Middle East crisis news hub

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • John P says:

    No comments yet from the pro Zionist regulars, maybe waiting for the Netanyahu official spin and their instructions on what to say?

  • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

    There is one positive thing out of the disgusting actions of Israel,USA and allies, they are not democracy role models and international does not exist, we can now live our lives as diverse Africans.

  • JP K says:

    “Hamas, considered a terrorist organisation by the US and European Union, may also prevent some of them from leaving.” This line is repeated verbatim on several sites, but I find no attribution. There is much that is problematic with this reporting – mainly taking Israel and its backers’ statements at face value when they have been shown to be liars. Blinken, for example said the case of genocide against Israel was “mertiless”. But here we are. With Israel on the verge of slaughtering more Palestinians. I suppose starving everyone to death was taking to long.

  • JP K says:

    “Faith • Trust • Belief”, eh Daily Maverick?

    When you keep publishing Bloomberg accounts of the ongoing carnage in Gaza it must be that you agree with it, no? There are other news outlets you could rely on. Unless you think that Bloomberg provides a credible account of the unfolding massacre – let’s call it a genocide. But all you’d know from this is that Hamas is a belligerent terrorist organisation with no aims other than the destruction of Israel. It’s time to call the media out on this.

    • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

      Are you ok with the illegal occupation and violent illegal settlements already declared by the UN?
      Are you calling Hamas a terrorist organization based on hearsays or do you base it on the terror happening there from both Israel and Hamas.
      Someone even said Israel is committing holy terror and Hamas evil terror, forgive me i am new in this terror thing but genocide is terrible.

      • JP K says:

        Israel is committing genocide (one can quibble over whether its plausible, or there is reasonable evidence for the claim or one can use one’s own eyes). But somehow the Daily Maverick/Bloomberg seem to miss that. It seems to miss the occupation. Both these cases are before the ICJ. Bloomberg/Daily Maverick seems to miss that. It seems to miss the murder of Palestinians before 7 October. It seems to take as credible Israeli accounts of beheadings, command centres under hospitals, UNRWA beings staffed by Hamas members, rape as a weapon of war all without evidence and all providing a rationale for Palestinian slaughter.

        But Bloomberg never fails to remind that Hamas is, according to the EU and the US, a terrorist organisation never bothering to attempt to define terrorism (I’ve put it out as an open challenge to define terrorism in a way that includes Hamas but doesn’t include Israel or the US). Bloomberg then tells us that death figures are provided by Hamas run health ministry thereby casting doubt on the figures (previously reporting just said the health ministry).

        Therefore I’m calling out the problematic reporting by Bloomberg which Daily Maverick relies on. Therefore, I’m also calling out the Daily Maverick.

        On the occupation and settlements. I’m not okay with violations of international law. I’ve been clear and consistent on that. Amnesty Internal has warned that the international order appears to be collapsing. We should all be alarmed.

        • Troy Marshall says:

          European nations were pressured by the USA into classifying Hamas as a terrorist organisation.
          The 2006 elections that bought Hamas into power were adjudged to be legit by EU observers.
          I don’t care for their ideology but Hamas is the Palestinian’s popular choice. In Hamas your average Palestinian see’s an organisation that is serious and will fight for freedom. Fatah is seen as more moderate.
          Hamas made it clear in 2006 that they would negotiate a two state solution based on the 1967 borders.
          Palestinian legislative elections were to be held in 2021. Hamas and Fatah made pre-election pact regarding negotiations for a two state solution that was based on the 1967 borders. The USA and Israel pressured Mahmood Abbas into cancelling these elections.
          Hamas are on record stating they will never recognise Israel. This is problematic, but it would be nigh on impossible to reason with Hamas while illegal settlements exist, illegal settlements are still been built and an illegal occupation is ongoing.
          My personal opinion is that a two state solution should be forced through – then use political pressure to ensure Israel’s recognition.

          As per “the Independent” the Biden administration has indefinitely delayed a report into whether Israel has committed war crimes in Gaza. Sitting on that report can only mean one thing.

          • JP K says:

            Thanks for the detail on Hamas.
            My point though, in case it’s not clear, is credulous reliance by Bloomberg on official sources directly implicated in the war crimes and genocide being committed resulting in biased framing (or due to biased framing?) which overlooks the well documented context of a colonial project being implemented with modern weapons. This is then presented daily on the Daily Maverick. Either the DM is okay with this quality of reporting or they’re not aware. In either case, it undermines their moto of “Faith • Trust • Belief”.

            To be clear. I acknowledge the important function of the media in principle. But the value of this function is not automatic. Unless the DM improves in this area they are merely supporting hegemonic common sense propping up those with power.

        • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

          I am sure the pro-zionists are laying low JPK, they used to have a lot to say.

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