Israel hammers Rafah with tanks and artillery

Published June 2, 2024
Palestinian members of Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) react near the bodies of their two fellow paramedics, who according to medics, were killed when an ambulance on a mission to rescue people was hit in an Israeli strike, during their funeral in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, May 30, 2024. — Reuters
Palestinian members of Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) react near the bodies of their two fellow paramedics, who according to medics, were killed when an ambulance on a mission to rescue people was hit in an Israeli strike, during their funeral in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, May 30, 2024. — Reuters

RAFAH: Israeli forces hammered Rafah in southern Gaza with tanks and artillery on Saturday, hours after US President Joe Biden said Israel was offering a new roadmap towards a full ceasefire.

Residents reported tank fire in the Tal al-Sultan neighbourhood in west Rafah, while witnesses in the east and centre of Rafah described intense shelling.

“From the early hours of the night until this morning, the aerial and artillery bombardment has not stopped for a single moment”, a resident from west Rafah told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“There are a number of occupation (Israeli) snipers in high-rise buildings overseeing all areas of Tal al-Sultan… making the situation very dangerous,” the resident added.

Netanyahu insists on war

Shortly after Biden’s announcement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted his country would still pursue the war until it had reached all its aims.

He reiterated that position on Saturday, saying that “Israel’s conditions for ending the war have not changed: the destruction of Hamas’s military and governing capabilities, the freeing of all hostages and ensuring that Gaza no longer poses a threat to Israel”.

Hamas, meanwhile, said it “views positively” the Israeli plan laid out by Biden.

In his first major address outlining a possible end to the nearly eight-month war, the US president said Israel’s three-stage offer would begin with a six-week phase that would see Israeli forces withdraw from all populated areas of Gaza.

Israel and the Palestinians would then negotiate for a lasting ceasefire — but the truce would continue so long as talks are ongoing, Biden said.

But Netanyahu took issue with Biden’s presentation of what was on the table, insisting on Friday the transition from one stage to the next was “conditional” and crafted to allow Israel to maintain its war aims.

Meanwhile, a meeting between US, Egyptian and Israeli officials is scheduled to take place on Sunday in Cairo to discuss the reopening of Gaza’s Rafah crossing, a high-level source told Egypt’s state-linked Al Qahera TV.

Published in Dawn, June 2nd, 2024

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