Crossing Kerem Shalom as Hamas fires rockets from Gaza

Israel has closed the Kerem Shalom crossing with the Gaza Strip after Hamas fired rockets from inside the strip, the military announced.

At least 10 people were injured, some seriously, Israeli media reported.

This crossing is one of the few routes through which humanitarian aid can reach Gaza.

The attack came as Egyptian mediators were holding talks aimed at brokering a ceasefire and releasing Israeli hostages. Israel has said it will not accept Hamas’ demands for an end to the war in Gaza.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said 10 projectiles were fired from an area near the Rafah crossing in southern Gaza, about 3.6 kilometers (2.2 miles) from Kerem Shalom.

According to the IDF, they were shot from about 350 meters away from a civilian shelter, and that “the terrorist organization Hamas is using civilians as human beings and systematically seizing humanitarian facilities and spaces for their terrorist needs.” Another obvious example is the use of “shields”.

It later announced that Israeli warplanes had crashed the launch site and another military facility nearby.

The war began after Hamas militants crossed the Gaza border into Israel on October 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking more than 250 hostages. The group is banned as a terrorist organization by many Western countries.

More than 34,600 Palestinians were killed and more than 77,900 injured during subsequent Israeli military operations in Gaza, according to statistics from the Hamas-run health ministry in the region.

Hamas has sent a delegation to negotiate a ceasefire in Cairo, which includes a 40-day cessation of fighting pending the release of hostages and the release of a number of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons.

The key issue appears to be whether the ceasefire will be permanent, as Hamas claims.

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the proposed ceasefire agreement would allow Hamas to maintain control of the Gaza Strip and pose a threat to Israel.

“The state of Israel cannot accept this.” [Hamas’s demands]We are not prepared to accept a situation in which Hamas brigades emerge from their bunkers, retake control of Gaza, rebuild military infrastructure, and begin threatening Israeli citizens in settlements across the southern mountains. country’s.

“This will be a terrible defeat for the State of Israel,” he added.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces pressure from within the far-right coalition to go ahead with a long-promised attack on Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost city. An estimated 1.4 million people are displaced in Rafah, fleeing fighting in northern and central Gaza. .

The United States, Israel’s biggest diplomatic and military ally, has been reluctant to support new attacks that could cause heavy civilian casualties and has urged it to first consider plans to protect the displaced. claims.

The Israeli government is also facing increasing pressure at home.

Of the 252 hostages kidnapped by Hamas on October 7, 128 are still missing, and at least 34 of them are presumed dead.

Ceasefire talks have continued for months with no progress, with no cessation of fighting or release of hostages since late November.

There was a moment when a new agreement seemed imminent, but it fell through before it could be signed.

Kerem Shalom intersection map

[BBC]

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