Israel encountered intensified global demands for a ceasefire agreement with Hamas amidst preparations to invade Rafah in southern Gaza, where over a million Palestinians find themselves encircled.
CIA Director William Burns aimed for Cairo to discuss a ceasefire brokered by Qatar. This ceasefire, intended to pause hostilities in exchange for the release of hostages by Hamas, follows cautions from the United States and the United Nations to Israel about the ramifications of a ground assault on Rafah without ensuring civilian safety. Displaced Palestinians, including Iman Dergham, express despair over the relentless violence.
During a White House meeting on Monday, Jordan’s King Abdullah II advocated for a comprehensive ceasefire to conclude the four-month conflict, highlighting the potential humanitarian disaster an attack on Rafah could precipitate. Jordan, which shelters numerous Palestinian refugees, has the king emphasizing the urgent need for a lasting peace agreement to terminate the war.
The United States has faced criticism from some allies in the Middle East for not endorsing a complete ceasefire, instead supporting Israel’s objective to dismantle Hamas and proposing brief halts for exchanges of prisoners and hostages.
On Monday, President Biden disclosed efforts to negotiate a six-week truce, acknowledging existing “gaps” despite some agreements.
As negotiations persist without yielding results, a source revealed to AFP the anticipation of CIA Director Burns’ arrival in Egypt on Tuesday for further high-stakes discussions. Burns had previously contributed to ceasefire negotiations in Paris the preceding month.
Rafah has emerged as a sanctuary for a significant portion of Gaza’s population, now confronting health crises and shortages of essential supplies at the border with Egypt. The United Nations has voiced concern for the safety of Gaza’s inhabitants, with the UN’s human rights chief, Volker Turk, warning of the severe civilian toll and the jeopardy of limited humanitarian aid a comprehensive Israeli incursion into Rafah could entail.
The situation in Gaza, particularly in the north, is dire, with residents facing near-famine conditions, exacerbated by the Israeli offensive that has claimed over 28,340 lives, predominantly women and children, as reported by the health ministry.