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Center East Disaster: Cairo Talks on a Gaza Stop-Hearth Are Prolonged

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Worldwide concern mounted on Tuesday over Israel’s plan to press its floor offensive into the southern Gaza metropolis of Rafah, the place almost half of the territory’s inhabitants has sought refuge, as mediators raced to dealer an settlement to pause the preventing.

President Biden despatched the C.I.A. director, William J. Burns, to affix the talks in Cairo, and mentioned that he had spoken with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and the leaders of Egypt and Qatar to “push this ahead” over the previous month.

The negotiations got here because the United Nations, the US and different international locations have expressed growing alarm in regards to the prospect of an Israeli incursion into Rafah, the place about 1.4 million persons are sheltering, many in tents, with out ample meals, water and medication.

Mr. Netanyahu has ordered the navy to attract up plans to evacuate civilians from the town, however many Palestinians say that no place within the territory is secure. Mr. Biden has mentioned that the US opposes an Israeli invasion of the town with no “credible plan” to guard civilians from hurt.

“Army operations in Rafah might result in a slaughter in Gaza,” Martin Griffiths, the highest U.N. help official, mentioned on Tuesday. “They might additionally depart an already fragile humanitarian operation at loss of life’s door.”

Because the warnings grew, negotiators in Cairo tried to hammer out an settlement between Israel and Hamas that may free the remaining hostages in Gaza and halt the preventing for not less than six weeks. Mr. Burns was assembly with the top of Mossad, Israel’s intelligence company, the prime minister of Qatar and Egyptian officers, in response to Al Qahera, an Egyptian state-owned tv channel.

On Tuesday, an Egyptian official briefed on the talks mentioned that the negotiations would proceed for an additional three days.

John F. Kirby, a Nationwide Safety Council spokesman, mentioned on Tuesday that the talks had been “transferring in the best course” however declined to supply particulars. Israel and Hamas, nevertheless, stay far aside of their publicly said positions and have proven no indicators of budging. Israel, for one, has mentioned it is not going to cease preventing in Gaza till Hamas is crushed and the hostages are freed.

“Nothing is completed till it’s all carried out,” Mr. Kirby instructed reporters on the White Home.

Requested about whether or not the US believes that the American hostages in Gaza are nonetheless alive, he mentioned, “We don’t have any info on the contrary.”

The anticipated Israeli advance into Rafah has led to mounting stress on Egypt, which controls a significant border crossing into the town.

Slightly than opening its border to provide Palestinians a refuge from the anticipated onslaught, Egypt has strengthened its frontier with Gaza, saying it is not going to let refugees cross the border into Sinai.

Palestinians fleeing Rafah for the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday.Credit score…Mohammed Salem/Reuters

There have been fears that any Israeli navy motion that sends Gazans spilling into Egyptian territory might jeopardize the decades-old peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, an anchor of stability within the Center East. However on Monday, Egypt supplied assurances that the treaty would stand.

Mr. Netanyahu has described Rafah as Hamas’s final stronghold. On Monday, after Israeli forces freed two hostages held within the metropolis in a nighttime commando operation, he mentioned that “solely continued navy stress, till complete victory, will deliver in regards to the launch of all of our hostages.”

However the rescue operation coincided with a wave of Israeli strikes that killed dozens in Rafah, Gazan well being authorities mentioned, pointing to the dangers to civilians of a full-scale invasion of the town. Stress is mounting, too, from inside Israel, the place teams just like the Hostages and Lacking Individuals Households Discussion board have appealed to the federal government to achieve an settlement for his or her freedom.

“The eyes of 134 hostages are upon you,” the group mentioned on Tuesday in a press release directed to the Mossad chief and the top of Shin Guess, who’re in Cairo for talks. “Don’t quit and don’t return with no deal.”

Officers of the United Nations and the Worldwide Felony Courtroom have warned of catastrophic penalties if Israeli forces had been to invade the town.

Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesman for the U.N. secretary common, António Guterres, mentioned that an incursion into Rafah would jeopardize the supply of important help by way of the town’s border crossing with Egypt.

The United Nations, he indicated, would play no half in Israel’s evacuation plans.

“We is not going to be social gathering to pressured displacement of individuals,” Mr. Dujarric mentioned. “As it’s, there is no such thing as a place that’s presently secure in Gaza.”

Karim Khan, the chief prosecutor of the Worldwide Felony Courtroom, mentioned that he was “deeply involved” a couple of full-scale floor offensive in Rafah, and hinted at the potential for prosecution for warfare crimes.

“All wars have guidelines and the legal guidelines relevant to armed battle can’t be interpreted in order to render them hole or devoid of which means,” he mentioned on social media.

Nick Cumming-Bruce contributed reporting.



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