Israel-Gaza conflict: following rocket launches by Hamas, Israel closes the Kerem Shalom crossing


,- Israel has decided to close down the Kerem Shalom border in reaction to rocket fire from Gaza. At least ten persons have been hurt, according to Israeli media reports, some of them seriously.

With short-range missiles, the armed branch of Hamas targeted Israeli soldiers in the most recent round of hostilities. This increase coincides with continuing negotiations in Cairo, Egypt, where mediators are trying to negotiate a truce for Gaza and get the release of Hamas captives.

Hamas declared on Sunday that talks had ended after two days in Cairo, and that their delegation would now be heading to Qatar to confer with the group's leadership. The suggested truce calls for a 40-day stop to hostilities to coincide with the release of Palestinian prisoners and hostages detained by Israel.

Still up for debate is whether the truce would be temporary or permanent. While Hamas demanded a commitment to a resolution of the war, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rebuffed such requests, stressing Israel's inability to let Hamas to resurrect and endanger Israeli citizens.

"This [Hamas's demands] is unacceptable to the state of Israel," Netanyahu said. We cannot stand by as the Hamas battalions emerge from their bunkers, seize back control of Gaza, reassemble their military apparatus, and start endangering Israeli lives."

The fighting started on October 7 following a string of Hamas incursions into Israel that left people dead and took hostages. There has been heavy death toll and extensive destruction in the Israeli military operation that followed in Gaza.

Netanyahu must strike a balance between security issues and the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza under growing pressure from both home and abroad. Especially the US has demanded action to safeguard displaced Palestinians and prudence to avoid civilian casualties.

The continuous hostilities emphasize how hard it is to come to a long-term ceasefire. The situation is still tense and there hasn't been a big progress in the months of talks.

Condemning the missile attacks, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) underlined the threat to nearby people. About 3.6 kilometers away from the Kerem Shalom crossing, in southern Gaza, was the location from whence the rockets were fired. As a reaction, the IDF destroyed the launcher and a neighboring military installation.

The difficulties in ending the fighting and the ongoing misery that civilians on both sides face are brought home by this most recent episode. The welfare of every impacted group must be given first priority while attempts to find a peaceful settlement must address the fundamental problems causing the violence.

(Newsline Paper Teams)
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