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Netanyahu Rejects Hamas Truce Proposal, Approves Rafah Invasion Plans

March 16, 2024

Hamas has presented a Gaza ceasefire proposal to mediators and the U.S. that includes the release of Israeli hostages in exchange for freedom for Palestinian prisoners, 100 of whom are serving life sentences.

As per Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office on Thursday, a new Gaza truce proposal presented by Hamas to mediators was still based on “unrealistic demands“. Netanyahu has rejected the latest truce and prisoner-exchange proposal and instead, has approved an Israeli military plan to launch an operation in the southern Gaza city of Rafah on Friday.

“The IDF  is prepared for the operation and to evacuate the (civilian) population,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.

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, 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.

Continued War and Humanitarian Crisis

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

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 war 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.

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