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Hamas warns Israeli ground invasion of Rafah will blow up captive talks

People ferry water at a makeshift tent camp for displaced Palestinians in Rafah near the border with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip, on January 24, 2024. (Photo by AFP)

The Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas, has warned that any Israeli ground invasion of Gaza’s border city of Rafah, which shelters hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinian civilians, will “blow up” the captive exchange negotiations.

The Al-Aqsa television channel issued the warning while quoting a senior Hamas leader as saying on Sunday.

Hamas also said it would hold “the American administration, international community, and the Israeli occupation” responsible if Israelis invaded the southernmost city in the Gaza Strip.

During a week-long truce in late November, Hamas freed more than 100 Israeli and foreign captives in exchange for Israel releasing about 240 Palestinian prisoners.

In response to a recent truce proposal, the Palestinian resistance movement has reportedly demanded a three-phase deal, 45 days each, to secure a prisoner-captive exchange, humanitarian aid, and reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, among other issues.

According to this draft, Hamas has also proposed indirect talks with the Israeli regime in the first stage to end the military aggression. The framework of the proposal was agreed to by negotiators in Paris at the end of last month.

Hamas also warned that Israel's planned ground offensive in Rafah could cause tens of thousands of casualties.

Airstrikes on the town in recent days have killed dozens of Palestinians, including women and children.

The city lies on the border with Egypt and hosts some 1.4 million displaced Palestinians who have been forced to leave their homes due to heavy Israeli bombardments in other parts of Gaza.

Several global leaders have warned the planned Israeli offensive would cause a humanitarian catastrophe as Palestinians have nowhere to go.

“An Israeli offensive on Rafah would lead to an unspeakable humanitarian catastrophe and grave tensions with Egypt,” European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell wrote on X.

UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell has said that the civilians in Rafah must be protected as they have nowhere to go.

“Rafah is one of the most densely populated places on earth, teeming with children and families, some already displaced many times by war in Gaza,” she said in a post on X.

Qatar, Saudi Arabia and other countries have also warned of severe repercussions if Israel goes into Rafah.

Egypt threatens to suspend key peace treaty with Israel

Egypt is threatening to suspend its "peace treaty" with Israel if Israeli troops are sent into the densely populated Gaza border town of Rafah. At least two Egyptian officials and a Western diplomat said Sunday. All three officials confirmed Egypt’s threats.

Israel and Egypt had fought five wars before signing the Camp David Accords, a treaty brokered by then-US president Jimmy Carter in the late 1970s.

Egyptian officials fear that if the border is breached, the military would be unable to stop a tide of people fleeing into the Sinai Peninsula.

Jordan warns against ground assault on Rafah

Sufyan Qudah, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, reiterated Jordan’s firm rejection of Palestinian displacement, emphasizing the imperative of ending hostilities, protecting civilians, and facilitating their safe return to their homes.

He urged swift international intervention to halt Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, which has caused an “unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe.”

Oman warns against Israel’s plans to storm Rafah

 Oman has said that it categorically rejected Israel’s intention to invade the city of Rafah.

“We warn of the serious repercussions of the continuation of the occupation in its indiscriminate aggression in the Gaza Strip and its plans to storm Rafah,” the Omani foreign ministry said in a statement. “We appeal to the international community to take concrete measures to dissuade Israel from its arrogance and push it to cease fire and open the crossings,” it said.

On the 128th day of the US-Israeli genocide in Gaza, at least 112 Palestinians were killed and many more injured in a day of Israeli airstrikes. The attacks are focusing on Rafah.

The death toll from the Israeli onslaught on Gaza since October 7 has risen to nearly 28,200, mostly women and children.

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