Israel does not 'take its finger off the line': It promises to invade Rafah despite the proposal for a ceasefire in Gaza

JERUSALEM.- International mediators made a new proposal for a ceasefire in Gaza, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu redoubled his promises of invade the city of Rafahwhere there are some 1.4 million Palestinians, the majority displaced by fighting in other areas of the territory.

“It will happen, there is a date,” Netanyahu said in a video statement, without going into details.

The United States, Israel's closest ally, has said a ground operation in Rafah would be a mistake and has demanded to see a credible plan to protect civilians. Netanyahu delivered his message as Israeli negotiators continued to engage in negotiations in Cairo to seek a ceasefire with the Palestinian armed group Hamas.

Mediators presented a new ceasefire proposal that would include a six-week pause in fighting and the exchange of 40 hostages held by Hamas for at least 700 Palestinians imprisoned by Israel, Egyptian officials said Tuesday.

The proposal was presented to Hamas and Israeli delegations over the weekend, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the negotiations.

Among the Palestinian prisoners to be released there would be dozens convicted of killing Israelis in attacks by armed groups. Hamas would have to provide a list of the hostages it would release, as well as the Palestinian prisoners whose release it demands.

The plan also includes the return of a significant number of Palestinians to northern Gaza and notes that Israel would gradually remove security checkpoints it installed on a new highway dividing the strip in half to prevent the return of Palestinians to the north. .

Hamas said it was reviewing the proposal.

Israeli troops withdraw from Khan Younis, regroup for assault on Rafah

Israeli troops withdrew on Sunday from Jan Yunis, another city in southern Gaza, ending a key phase of the war. Defense officials said their forces were regrouping ahead of an assault on Rafah. Palestinians who visited Khan Yunis on Monday said the city is now uninhabitable, giving them few options to return immediately. Many have taken refuge in Rafah.

The Palestinian death toll in the war has exceeded 33,200, with almost 76,000 injured, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health. The Ministry does not differentiate between civilians and combatants in its count, but says that women and children account for up to two-thirds of the dead.

The war began on October 7 when Hamas-led militants stormed southern Israel and They killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, in addition to taking about 250 people hostage.

Meanwhile, international pressure on Israel continued to mount, and Turkey restricted the export of dozens of products to Israel, including aluminum, steel, construction materials and chemical fertilizers.

The decision was announced after Israel rejected a request for Turkish military cargo planes to join an operation to drop aid material on Gaza, the Turkish Foreign Minister said on Tuesday. Hakan Fidan. Ankara will maintain these measures until Israel declares a ceasefire and allows aid to enter Gaza uninterrupted, he added.

Israel later indicated that it was preparing an import ban on several Turkish products. The Israeli Foreign Minister, Israel Katz, stated on the social network