BARI (Italy): G7 leaders on Thursday called on Hamas to accept a roadmap towards a ceasefire in Gaza announced by US Presi­dent Joe Biden in May.

The UN Security Council had supported the plan and “now it is important that everyone implements it,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said at the Group of Seven summit in Italy.

“We therefore call on Hamas in particular to give the necessary consent so that this can now work,” he said. Biden launched a new US effort late last month to secure a truce and hostage release.

However the deal remains uncertain as Hamas officials have insisted that any ceasefire agreement must guarantee a permanent end to the war — a demand Israel has firmly rejected.

Palestinian resistance movement says its fighters are battling Israeli troops near the besieged Strip’s border with Egypt

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who is hosting the summit, said she confirmed “the unanimous support for the US mediation proposal for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza”.

The G7, which also includes Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the US, also called for the release of all prisoners, and for a significant increase in humanitarian assistance to the civilian population of Gaza, she said.

Rafah battles

Israeli helicopters struck Gaza’s Rafah on Thursday, residents said, with Hamas reporting street battles in the southern city after top US diplomat Antony Blinken said a truce was still possible.

Israeli ground forces have been operating in Rafah since early May, despite widespread alarm over the fate of Palestinian civilians there, and a ruling by the International Court of Justice later that month.

Western areas of Rafah came under heavy fire on Thursday from the air, sea and land, residents said.

“There was very intense fire from warplanes, Apaches (helicopters) and quadcopters, in addition to Israeli artillery and military battle ships, all of which were striking the area west of Rafah,” one said. Hamas said its fighters were battling Israeli troops on the streets in the city, near the besieged Gaza Strip’s border with Egypt.

Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2024

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