IDF seizes control of Rafah border crossing, Palestinians say

Sky News Arabic shows Israeli flag on Gazan side of the border with Egypt; Social media posts show military APC near English Gaza sign; Qatar sending delegation back to Cairo to resume negotiations for hostage release, cease-fire

IDF seizes control of Rafah border crossing to Egypt 

IDF forces have on Tuesday morning taken control over the Gazan side of the Rafah border crossing to Egypt after Isarel began its offensive and troops moved into the Rafah area on Monday. Social media posts from the Strip show an armored vehicle beside a sign reading Gaza in English and the Hamas border authorities announced there suspension of all border crossings there and Sky News Arabic said the Israeli flag is now flying there.
The IDF confirmed that the border crossing was under its control adding the forces were searching the area from which rockets were fired during a fatal strike on the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza from Israel, killing four soldiers on Sunday.
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כלי רכב של צה"ל בצד העזתי של מעבר רפיח רצועת עזה
כלי רכב של צה"ל בצד העזתי של מעבר רפיח רצועת עזה
Israeli flag at the Rafah border crossing into Egypt
The military also said that while taking control of the main Salah ad-Din thoroughfare, at least 20 terrorists were killed, three tunnel shafts uncovered and a car bomb nearing the force, destroyed. The IDF also said that some 100 targets were struck from the air.
Israeli forces at the Rafah border to Egypt

The IDF spokesperson said that the seizing of the Rafah border crossing to Egypt came after intelligence indicated it had been used by terrorists. The military also said its offensive began after coordination with international organizations in the area and the urging for civilians to evacuate to save zones. Meanwhile civilians continued to leave the city of Rafah, seeking shelter in humanitarian zone.
Palestinian civilians leave Rafah amid Israeli offensive

The Qatari Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that a delegation will be traveling to Cairo to resume negotiations for a hostage release deal in exchange for a cease-fire in Gaza and the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Strip.
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כלי רכב של צה"ל בצד העזתי של מעבר רפיח רצועת עזה
כלי רכב של צה"ל בצד העזתי של מעבר רפיח רצועת עזה
Israeli troops at the Rafah border crossing into Egypt
Meanwhile the New York Times reported that the Hamas terror group made "minor changes," to the proposed deal and that the Israelis must now respond. The report quotes American officials who said Hamas gave a "serious" response to the proposal and that after the first phase of the deal, efforts would be made to achieve "sustainable calm," a term likely to prompt pushback.
About two hours after Hamas' responded positively to an Egyptian-Qatari cease-fire proposal, Palestinian and Arab media reported Monday evening that IDF forces and tanks began to enter Gaza's East Rafah, in following intense heavy shelling in the eastern area of ​​the city.
The IDF spokesman confirmed the report and said that "IDF forces are attacking and operating now against targets of the terrorist organization Hamas in a targeted manner in East Rafah." The Palestinians reported that houses were blown up in the al-Shuqa area and around the Rafah Crossing, and that there was tank fire and artillery shelling from the east.
Shortly after the reports, the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement that "the War Cabinet unanimously decided that Israel will continue its operation in Rafah in order to exert military pressure on Hamas in order to promote the release of our hostages and the other goals of the war."
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צה"ל תוקף ברפיח
צה"ל תוקף ברפיח
IDF shelling in Rafah
The cabinet was convened at the request of the Chief of Staff Major General Herzi Halevi and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant
It was also reported that "even though the Hamas proposal is far from meeting Israel's necessary requirements, Israel will send a delegation of working-class mediators to exhaust the possibility of reaching an agreement under conditions acceptable to Israel."
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צה"ל תוקף ברפיח
צה"ל תוקף ברפיח
IDF attacks in East Rafah
Israel claims that there is still a great distance from agreeing to a deal, but it is impossible to say no to Hamas' answer, and that is why a delegation is being sent to Cairo, while on the other hand preparations for the operation in Rafah are continuing.
IDF shelling seen in Rafah
A U.S. official familiar with truce negotiations between Hamas and Israel told Reuters on Monday that Israel still plans to proceed with a 90-day plan to invade Rafah, which Washington is committed to stopping.
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תושבים עוזבים את רפיח
תושבים עוזבים את רפיח
Gazan civilians evacuate Rafah
(Photo: REUTERS/Ramadan Abed)
"Netanyahu and the War Cabinet have not appeared to approach the latest phase of negotiations (with Hamas) in good faith," the official told Reuters, asking not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres commented on the start of the operation in Rafah. "I reiterate my call urging both the government of Israel and the leadership of Hamas to go the extra mile necessary to fulfill an agreement and stop the current suffering. I am very concerned about the indications that a large-scale military operation in Rafah may be coming. We are already seeing movement of people, many of them are in a desperate humanitarian situation. They are looking for a safe space that has been rejected so many times."
Hamas announced earlier on Monday evening it has accepted an Egyptian-Qatari proposal for a cease-fire to halt the seven-month-long war with Israel in Gaza, hours after Israel ordered about 100,000 Palestinians to begin evacuating from the southern city of Rafah, signaling that a long-promised ground invasion there could be imminent. A Hamas official said that "we agreed to a six-week cease-fire."
a senior Israeli official called the so-called deal "a unilateral proposal without Israeli involvement. This is not the proposal we discussed with the Egyptians. This is an exercise by Hamas designed to present Israel as a refusenik."
Israeli officials added that "the Egyptians unilaterally flexed all the parameters so that Hamas would agree. This was done unilaterally and this proposal is not acceptable to Israel." According to an Israeli official, "it sounds like a drill."
At the same time, an official briefed on the cease-fire talks said Hamas agreed to the latest proposal that Israel had made on April 27 and there were no major changes since then, adding the Qatari mediators had spoken to Hamas about this on Sunday and Monday. "What happens next depends on Israel to accept or reject Hamas' response. The ball is in Israel's court," the source told Reuters, asking not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.
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