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Israel gives hostage deal ‘last chance’ before Rafah attack: Reports

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Tel Aviv, April 27 (IANS/DPA) Israel sees the latest efforts to achieve a ceasefire and a hostage deal in the Gaza war as a “last chance” before the planned attack on the city of Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip, according to media reports.

Tel Aviv, April 27 (IANS/DPA) Israel sees the latest efforts to achieve a ceasefire and a hostage deal in the Gaza war as a “last chance” before the planned attack on the city of Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip, according to media reports.

According to a senior Israeli official, the talks between Egyptian and Israeli representatives in Tel Aviv on Friday were “very good” and focused. The Egyptians were apparently prepared to put pressure on the Palestinian militant organization Hamas in order to reach an agreement.

Progress had been made in all areas of the talks, the Times of Israel quoted reports late on Friday evening. Previously, the state-affiliated Egyptian television station Al-Qahira News had also reported considerable progress.

The Israeli official was quoted as saying that Israel would not allow Hamas, in particular its leader in the Gaza Strip, Yahya al-Sinwar, to delay a hostage deal in order to prevent the planned military offensive in Rafah.

The army had mobilised two more reserve brigades a few days ago.

Al-Sinwar is considered to have been the mastermind of the massacre in Israel on October 7 last year, in which around 1,200 Israeli soldiers and civilians were killed and more than 200 people were abducted to Gaza. Israeli forces believe al-Sinwar is hiding in tunnels below Rafah.

“This is the last chance before we go to Rafah,” the Times of Israel quoted the unnamed Israeli government official as saying. “It’s either an agreement in the future or Rafah.”

Israel wants to smash the last remaining Hamas battalions in the town in southern Gaza, which borders Egypt. According to Israeli media, Egypt wants to reach an agreement to avert the assault on Rafah. Egypt is concerned that large numbers of Palestinians could cross the border.

More than a million civilians have fled from the fighting in the rest of the Gaza Strip and sought refuge in Rafah.

According to the Israeli media, the latest talks between Egyptian and Israeli representatives were initially intended to focus on a limited agreement with Hamas, whereby only some female, elderly and sick hostages would be released. Hamas had rejected a US proposal to release 40 such abductees.

According to them, there aren’t that many hostages left alive who fall into these categories. Hamas is calling for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, a demand which Israel’s government rejects.

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