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Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu. (Image: PC)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

Israel’s decision to proceed with a ground incursion into Rafah comes after repeated warnings from the international community.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected the latest truce and prisoner-exchange proposal by the Palestinian Resistance Movement Hamas and, instead, has approved an Israeli military plan to launch an operation in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, Israeli media reported on Friday.

”The IDF (Israeli army) is prepared for the operation and to evacuate the (civilian) population,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement, which was cited by the Times of Israel.

Earlier in the day, Hamas announced on social media that it had presented its vision of a prisoner swap with Israel to Qatari and Egyptian mediators and was looking towards a ceasefire agreement that would involve the withdrawal of invading Israeli forces from Gaza.

According to Reuters, which has seen the proposal, the Palestinian group proposed the release of Israeli women, including female soldiers, children, the elderly, and ill hostages, in exchange for Israel freeing between 700 and 1,000 Palestinian prisoners. Once the prisoner exchange is complete, Hamas said it would be ready to negotiate a date for a permanent ceasefire.

Tel Aviv, however, dismissed the proposal and accused Hamas of making “unrealistic demands.”

On Thursday, Netanyahu also reiterated Israel’s determination to complete its mission of “eliminating” Hamas.

Israel’s decision to proceed with a ground incursion into Rafah comes after repeated warnings from the international community, including the US and Egypt, not to enter the city where some 1.5 million displaced Palestinian refugees are sheltering.

Currently on trial before the International Court of Justice for genocide against Palestinians, Israel has been waging a devastating war on Gaza since October 7. 

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 31,490 Palestinians have been killed, and 73,439 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

Moreover, at least 7,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip. 

Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children. 

The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all over the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba.

 Israel says that 1,200 soldiers and civilians were killed during the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on October 7. Israeli media published reports suggesting that many Israelis were killed on that day by ‘friendly fire.’ 

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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