Rafah: can a ceasefire prevent an offensive?

The radical Islamic Hamas group says it has agreed to an Egyptian-Qatari proposal for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. However Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said the deal was far from meeting Israel’s demands and that it would therefore go ahead with its offensive in Rafah, while at the same time sending a high-ranking negotiating delegation to Egypt.

La Repubblica (IT) /

The true mediator: Erdoğan

La Repubblica gives Turkish President Erdoğan a decisive role in the ceasefire negotiations:

“Will Israel say yes? Actually, it doesn’t really matter. Because even if it says no, Ismail Haniyeh will stick to his resolute yes. And responsibility for the war will be shifted entirely to Netanyahu. ... What has changed for Hamas? Obviously that the 132 hostages who remained in Gaza are now mostly dead. The longer the war goes on, the more bargaining chips Hamas stands to lose. But it was Erdoğan who made the difference. ... He has far more influence over Hamas than Qatar does, because he’s not an ally but a friend. A brotherly friend of Haniyeh and of half the politburo, with whom he shares an affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Francesa Borri
The Irish Times (IE) /

Netanyahu’s unclear motives

Israel’s prime minister should accept the negotiated proposal, The Irish Times advises:

“Allies like the US have been begging Netanyahu to hold back — if he does not, many will inevitably be forced by domestic pressures into discussions on sanctions and limitations on arms supplies. In the wake of progress on ceasefire terms, many will ask whether the prime minister is prioritising the release of the hostages? Or whether he is preoccupied with placating his extremist cabinet allies?”

The Spectator (GB) /

Backing down is not an option

Israel can’t agree to a comprehensive ceasefire under the present conditions, The Spectator argues:

“Fighting will have to resume in order to defeat Hamas. Israel cannot allow the organisation to keep control of Gaza and to continue to attack Israelis, as it has vowed to do. The 7 October attack made it clear that this is a threat that has to be eliminated, or at the very least reduced to an acceptable level. To achieve this, Israel has to tackle Hamas in Rafah.”

Limor Simhony
Delo (SI) /

The worst could be yet to come

The ground offensive has already begun, Delo fears:

“The start of the forced evacuation of the exhausted, hungry, sick and traumatised residents of Rafah, who have already been internally displaced several times, can be seen as the beginning of the long-expected major Israeli ground offensive that could unleash a new chapter of unspeakable horror in Gaza. A frontal assault on the city, where on average 14,000 people per square kilometre currently live in appalling conditions, and which is also the centre of most of the (few) humanitarian operations in the entire Palestinian enclave, could become the worst thing yet in these times packed with the horrors of war.”

Boštjan Videmšek