Three Israeli-Gaza conflict soldiers were killed in a rocket attack from Kerem Shalom

REUTERS/Hatem Khaled

,- Three soldiers were killed, according to Israel, in a Hamas rocket attack close to the Kerem Shalom crossing, which is an essential passage for humanitarian supplies into Gaza. Israel closed the border over night in reaction. At least 12 people have been confirmed dead in Israeli attacks that followed in Rafah, a southern city of Gaza.

The missiles were fired from a location near the Rafah crossing, some 3.6 kilometres (2.2 miles) from Kerem Shalom, according to Israeli military. Claiming responsibility, the military wing of Hamas said that a neighbouring Israeli army base was their objective. As confirmed by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), the missiles were fired from a location about 350 metres from a civilian shelter. IDF denounced these missiles and the way Hamas exploits people and humanitarian institutions as human shields.

Israel responded to Hamas's accusation that it was using people as human shields by hitting the launcher site and a neighbouring military building in Rafah. The increase in hostilities happened in the middle of recently delayed ceasefire negotiations.

Over the last two days, there has been no advancement in the talks between Israel and Hamas in Cairo, Egypt. The parties' intransigence on their core requests indicates a standstill in the talks. Still, talks are scheduled to go back up in the hopes of reaching an agreement.

Hamas declared the plan of its delegation to visit Qatar in order to confer with the group's leadership. Simultaneously, reports state that William Burns, the head of the CIA and mediator, has departed Cairo for negotiations in Doha, Qatar.

The 40-day ceasefire that is being offered is intended to help free Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails and hostages kept in Gaza. Though Hamas thinks the idea is good, the big issue is how long the truce will last. Though Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejects such requests out of concern about a comeback of Hamas's military might, Hamas insists on a commitment to ending the war.

Netanyahu underlined that Israel will not stand by and let Hamas to retake control of Gaza and reassemble its military apparatus, endangering Israeli lives once more. The present hostilities began on October 7 when Hamas fighters broke across Gaza's border into Israel, taking hostages and killing people. For its activities, Hamas has been under international attention. Many Western nations have classified it as a terrorist organisation.

Thousands of Palestinians have been killed and injured in the Israeli military operation in Gaza, according to the health ministry there. Under increasing pressure, especially from inside his coalition, Netanyahu must decide whether to use more force in Rafah, where a sizable population has fled the fighting.

But before it supports any military action, the US, concerned about civilian losses, demands a strategy to protect displaced Palestinians. As such, Israel has declared that a "expanded humanitarian zone" with field hospitals, tents and supplies for basic needs will be set up in eastern Rafah.

In an announcement made on social media, the IDF urged those living in eastern Rafah to transfer to the humanitarian zone and promised continuous evaluations to direct the safe passage of people. This development underlines how difficult it is to strike a balance during a war between military goals and humanitarian ones.

The situation in Gaza keeps getting worse and presents difficulties for all parties engaged as long as the fighting continues and ceasefire talks are stalled. Watching intently is the international community, hoping for a quick and amicable end to the protracted dispute.

(Newsline Paper Teams)
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