Rafah: can the offensive be stopped?

The radical Islamic Hamas says it has agreed to a mediated proposal for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded by saying that the proposal fell far short of Israel's demands but that he would send a high-ranking negotiating delegation to Egypt. In the meantime he is allowing the Rafah offensive to continue. The Israeli army has now gained control of parts of the city and of the Palestinian side of the border crossing.

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Turun Sanomat (FI) /

High time to stop the suffering

Turun Sanomat calls for every effort to be made to bring about an immediate ceasefire:

“The situation in Rafah is escalating. Israel wants to destroy Hamas there too, which will only exacerbate the humanitarian crisis. ... The Hamas leadership must have known how Israel would react to a bloody terrorist attack. If their goal was to damage Israel's international reputation, they have succeeded. The cost has been terrible: tens of thousands of civilian casualties, most of them Palestinians. The international community must do everything in its power to bring about a ceasefire in Gaza, because this may be the last opportunity for some time. The suffering of the civilian population must end.”

The Guardian (GB) /

Biden's overcautiousness taking its toll again

The US government has failed to take a clear stance against Israel's actions, The Guardian criticises:

“The US - by far the most influential external party to the conflict - continues to tread far too cautiously, particularly around Israel's concerns. Excess caution is a hallmark of Joe Biden's presidency. His reluctance to risk a confrontation with Russia has led Ukraine to the brink of defeat two years after Vladimir Putin's invasion. Likewise, Biden's refusal to confront Netanyahu hard and early over Gaza has greatly contributed to a deepening of the catastrophe - and Biden's own critical loss of support among American voters.”

Berlingske (DK) /

No chance of peace with Hamas

There can be no peace with Hamas, Berlingske stresses:

“Monday's attempt by Hamas to gain international support and put Israel on the defensive by agreeing to a ceasefire was doomed to fail, even if the Israeli government was briefly compelled to justify its refusal to sign the deal. ... Because this ceasefire would hardly have been the basis for a lasting peace. That said, the Israelis must be extremely careful about what they do now. A bloody attack on Rafah with thousands of civilian casualties will backfire. But Hamas must go. Peace will not be possible before that happens.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

The true mediator: Erdoğan

La Repubblica gives Turkish President Erdoğan a decisive role in the ceasefire negotiations:

“Will Israel say yes? Actually, it doesn't really matter. Because even if it says no, Ismail Haniyeh will stick to his resolute yes. And responsibility for the war will be shifted entirely to Netanyahu. ... What has changed for Hamas? Obviously that the 132 hostages who remained in Gaza are now mostly dead. The longer the war goes on, the more bargaining chips Hamas stands to lose. But it was Erdoğan who made the difference. ... He has far more influence over Hamas than Qatar does, because he's not an ally but a friend. A brotherly friend of Haniyeh and of half the politburo, with whom he shares an affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood.”

The Irish Times (IE) /

Netanyahu's unclear motives

Israel's prime minister should accept the negotiated proposal, The Irish Times advises:

“Allies like the US have been begging Netanyahu to hold back - if he does not, many will inevitably be forced by domestic pressures into discussions on sanctions and limitations on arms supplies. In the wake of progress on ceasefire terms, many will ask whether the prime minister is prioritising the release of the hostages? Or whether he is preoccupied with placating his extremist cabinet allies?”

The Spectator (GB) /

Backing down is not an option

Israel can't agree to a comprehensive ceasefire under the present conditions, The Spectator argues:

“Fighting will have to resume in order to defeat Hamas. Israel cannot allow the organisation to keep control of Gaza and to continue to attack Israelis, as it has vowed to do. The 7 October attack made it clear that this is a threat that has to be eliminated, or at the very least reduced to an acceptable level. To achieve this, Israel has to tackle Hamas in Rafah.”

Delo (SI) /

The worst could be yet to come

The ground offensive has already begun, Delo fears:

“The start of the forced evacuation of the exhausted, hungry, sick and traumatised residents of Rafah, who have already been internally displaced several times, can be seen as the beginning of the long-expected major Israeli ground offensive that could unleash a new chapter of unspeakable horror in Gaza. A frontal assault on the city, where on average 14,000 people per square kilometre currently live in appalling conditions, and which is also the centre of most of the (few) humanitarian operations in the entire Palestinian enclave, could become the worst thing yet in these times packed with the horrors of war.”