Israel Launches Attack on Rafah Amid Ceasefire Talks

( – On May 6, media outlets erupted with a series of conflicting reports that Hamas agreed to the terms of an Egyptian/Qatari proposal for a temporary ceasefire with Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Subsequent reports indicate that Israel rejected amendments added by the Sunni Islamist group to an April agreement presented by Israeli officials.

Later that day, an IDF spokesperson told reporters that Israeli officials would consider the ceasefire agreement. However, he noted that the country’s military forces wouldn’t halt ongoing operations in the Gaza Strip in the interim.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed his intention to send negotiators to work out the differences between the terms of Israel’s ceasefire proposal and the new one presented by Egypt and Qatar. Meanwhile, the Israeli leader’s War Cabinet approved the launch of a military operation in Rafah while those ceasefire talks continue.

Israeli Defense Forces Launch Attack on Rafah

At 3:11 p.m. Eastern Time (9:11 p.m. Israel Daylight Time), the IDF issued a statement on its X/Twitter account announcing that Israeli forces launched an attack against Hamas “in a targeted manner” in Rafah. The notice indicated the fighting there was ongoing.

Later that day, the IDF spokesman Brigadier General Daniel Hagari issued an update on the ongoing battle. He explained that so far, Israeli fighters had destroyed an explosives laboratory, located a second one, and “eliminated an armed terrorist.” He also advised that fighter jets attacked a military structure in southern Lebanon run by Hezbollah, a Shia Islamist militant group assisting Hamas.

Western news sources reported that IDF troops seized control of key entry points into Rafah, like the border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, a vital element to the transfer of weapons and ammunition to Hamas. The crossing also serves as a portal for the entry of humanitarian aid supplies to Palestinian civilians and an evacuation route.

The White House has described the Israeli offensive as a limited operation. However, media outlets reported the rise of international concerns regarding the possibility of a full-scale invasion of Rafah by the IDF.

Likewise, the United Nations and other international groups warn that ongoing military operations could impact the flow of humanitarian aid to Palestinians and eventually lead to a “full-blown famine.”

Why the Interest in Rafah?

Netanyahu and other Israeli officials believe Rafah is the last major stronghold held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The prime minister has consistently maintained the importance of achieving a total victory over the militant group by dismantling its military infrastructure and weakening its political arm.

Former US Navy chief petty officer and noted intelligence and foreign policy advisor Malcolm Nance reported that “the Rafah blitz [presents] an existential crisis for Hamas” and could mark the end of the group’s terrorist force. He predicted a successful conclusion to the IDF’s operation.

Nance predicted that the world is “likely” witnessing the “beginning of the end of the Israel-Hamas War.

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