Hamas’s announcement adds to the uncertainty of the cease-fire talks

Hamas’s announcement adds to the uncertainty of the cease-fire talks

By Oghale May6,2024

But Israeli leaders have also vowed to conduct a major military operation in Rafah against Hamas’s forces they believe to be fortified there. Mr. Netanyahu has repeatedly said Israel will invade Rafah with or without a cease-fire deal.

Israel withdrew its forces from Gaza after previous conflicts with Hamas in 2014 and 2009, but this time, Israeli leaders say it’s not so simple.

During the Hamas-led attack on Oct. 7, Palestinian gunmen overwhelmed communities and military bases near Gaza, killing an estimated 1,200 people, according to Israeli officials.

Israeli leaders have pledged to do whatever it takes to ensure such an assault can never happen again, and they say that means maintaining the Israeli military’s freedom to operate in Gaza.

Israeli forces have also demolished many buildings inside Gaza’s border area to create a buffer zone with Israel, prompting international criticism.

In public, at least, Hamas has rejected a long-term Israeli military presence in the Palestinian enclave, including a buffer zone. In March, a senior Hamas official, Ghazi Hamad, said the group was willing to accept a phased Israeli retreat as part of a prospective cease-fire deal, as long as Israel committed to ultimately withdrawing entirely from the Gaza Strip.

Mr. Netanyahu has repeatedly said he is committed to bringing home the hostages held in Gaza, but his political survival depends on far-right allies in his governing coalition who oppose the current proposed deal.

Two of those allies — the finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, and the national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir — have denounced the proposed agreement, saying it amounts to a Hamas victory. They have called for Israeli forces to immediately begin a ground operation in Rafah.

Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition holds 64 seats out of 120 in Israel’s parliament, meaning any defections could endanger his premiership and pave the way for elections.

Yair Lapid, the leader of Israel’s parliamentary opposition, has said he would back Mr. Netanyahu in order to pass a deal that brings hostages home to Israel. But that would leave Mr. Netanyahu totally dependent on some of his harshest critics in the opposition — a political alliance unlikely to last long.

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By Oghale

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