AGL 24.00 Decreased By ▼ -0.73 (-2.95%)
AIRLINK 111.20 Increased By ▲ 0.10 (0.09%)
BOP 5.41 Decreased By ▼ -0.13 (-2.35%)
CNERGY 3.85 Decreased By ▼ -0.05 (-1.28%)
DCL 8.26 Decreased By ▼ -0.19 (-2.25%)
DFML 41.70 Decreased By ▼ -0.55 (-1.3%)
DGKC 90.10 Increased By ▲ 0.50 (0.56%)
FCCL 22.86 Decreased By ▼ -0.04 (-0.17%)
FFBL 40.79 Decreased By ▼ -1.19 (-2.83%)
FFL 8.92 Decreased By ▼ -0.12 (-1.33%)
HUBC 157.90 Decreased By ▼ -4.30 (-2.65%)
HUMNL 11.02 Decreased By ▼ -0.33 (-2.91%)
KEL 4.58 Decreased By ▼ -0.20 (-4.18%)
KOSM 4.01 Decreased By ▼ -0.05 (-1.23%)
MLCF 38.31 Decreased By ▼ -0.64 (-1.64%)
NBP 48.90 Decreased By ▼ -1.70 (-3.36%)
OGDC 135.20 Decreased By ▼ -1.91 (-1.39%)
PAEL 27.34 Decreased By ▼ -1.21 (-4.24%)
PIBTL 6.15 Decreased By ▼ -0.10 (-1.6%)
PPL 118.50 Decreased By ▼ -4.30 (-3.5%)
PRL 23.94 Decreased By ▼ -0.36 (-1.48%)
PTC 13.25 Decreased By ▼ -0.49 (-3.57%)
SEARL 59.00 Decreased By ▼ -1.05 (-1.75%)
TELE 7.64 Decreased By ▼ -0.12 (-1.55%)
TOMCL 38.20 Decreased By ▼ -1.20 (-3.05%)
TPLP 8.63 Decreased By ▼ -0.13 (-1.48%)
TREET 15.92 Decreased By ▼ -0.28 (-1.73%)
TRG 57.91 Decreased By ▼ -2.09 (-3.48%)
UNITY 33.45 Decreased By ▼ -0.95 (-2.76%)
WTL 1.20 Decreased By ▼ -0.02 (-1.64%)
BR100 8,548 Decreased By -158.9 (-1.83%)
BR30 27,120 Decreased By -677.8 (-2.44%)
KSE100 80,646 Decreased By -1193.7 (-1.46%)
KSE30 25,844 Decreased By -421.3 (-1.6%)

GAZA STRIP: Israel’s armed forces stepped up air strikes on Gaza’s far-southern Rafah on Thursday as fears of ground fighting grew among the more than one million Palestinians crowded into the city.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken left Israel without securing a pause in fighting, wrapping up his fifth crisis tour of the Middle East since the war started.

Heavy fighting raged on despite international efforts towards a ceasefire in the bloodiest ever Gaza war sparked by Hamas’s October 7 attack on southern Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had ordered troops to “prepare to operate” in Rafah, after rejecting what he labelled Hamas’s “bizarre demands” in truce talks.

Israel bombs Gaza amid disagreements with US over possibility of Palestinian state

Netanyahu announced the order despite UN chief Antonio Guterres warning that a military push into Rafah “would exponentially increase what is already a humanitarian nightmare”.

AFP journalists reported that Israel carried out at least seven air strikes overnight in the Rafah area, terrifying civilians crowded into shelters and makeshift camps.

“These strikes are proof there is no safety in Rafah,” said resident Umm Hassan, 48, whose home was damaged in the shelling of the nearby house of a local police chief.

“Look at the residential unit they just blew up,” he said. “Regarding Netanyahu’s threat to invade Rafah, we are people of faith. We are not worried. Life is one and God is one.” Strikes and ground combat continued across the Hamas-ruled territory, now in its fifth month of war, where the health ministry said another 130 people were killed in 24 hours.

Blinken ended his fifth tour of the region, where US forces have been drawn into related conflicts from Iraq to Yemen. The US top envoy stopped short of calling on Israel not to move on Rafah, but warned that any “military operation that Israel undertakes needs to put civilians first and foremost”.

On the ceasefire talks, Blinken insisted he still saw “space for agreement to be reached” to halt the fighting and bring home hostages.

Egypt was set to host new talks on Thursday with Qatari and Hamas negotiators hoping to achieve “calm” in Gaza and a prisoner-hostage exchange, an Egyptian official said. Blinken told reporters that Hamas’s counter-proposal had at least offered an opportunity “to pursue negotiations”.

“While there are some clear non-starters in Hamas’s response, we do think it creates space for agreement to be reached, and we will work at that relentlessly until we get there,” he said.

Hamas said a delegation led by Khalil al-Hayya, a leading member of the group’s political bureau, was travelling to Cairo.

A Gaza-based Palestinian official close to the militant group later told AFP: “We expect the negotiations to be very complex and difficult.

“But Hamas is open to discussions and the movement is keen to reach a ceasefire,” added the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The official said the talks would concentrate on the first phase of a proposed ceasefire, which was envisioned to last “about six weeks”. During that time, talks would be held about an exchange of hostages for women and children held in Israeli prisons, and the entry of hundreds of aid trucks to Gaza. Hamas’s unprecedented attack on Israel on October 7 resulted in the deaths of about 1,160 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

Comments

Comments are closed.