Ceasefire Hopes Fade as Israel Seizes Control of Rafah

Israeli tank brigade takes control of Gaza Strip side of Rafah border crossing with Egypt
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 7, 2024 5:47 AM CDT
Israel Takes 'Operational Control' of Crucial Rafah Crossing
Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike east of Rafah, Gaza Strip, on Monday.   (AP Photo/Ismael Abu Dayyah)

An Israeli tank brigade has seized control of the Gaza Strip side of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, authorities say, moving forward with an offensive in the southern city even as ceasefire negotiations with Hamas remain on a knife's edge. The move comes after hours of whiplash in the Israel-Hamas war, with the militant group on Monday saying it accepted an Egyptian-Qatari mediated ceasefire proposal. Israel, meanwhile, insisted the deal didn't meet its core demands. The high-stakes diplomatic moves and military brinkmanship left a glimmer of hope alive—but only barely—for an accord that could bring at least a pause in the seven-month-old war that has devastated the Gaza Strip, per the AP.

The Israeli 401st Brigade entered the Rafah crossing early Tuesday, the Israeli military said, taking "operational control" of the crucial crossing. It's the main route for aid entering the besieged enclave and exit for those able to flee into Egypt. More than a million people are huddled in tents and overcrowded apartments in Rafah after fleeing Israel's military offensive in other parts of the Gaza Strip. Israel says Rafah is Hamas' last stronghold, but the United States opposes a full-scale invasion of the city bordering Egypt unless Israel provides a "credible" plan for protecting civilians there. The war in Gaza has driven around 80% of the territory's population of 2.3 million from their homes and caused vast destruction to apartments, hospitals, mosques, and schools across several cities.

(More Israel-Hamas war stories.)

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