Hamas accepts ceasefire; Israel strikes Rafah

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Hamas announced on May 6 that its leaders have told Egyptian and Qatari mediators that they accepted the most recent Gaza ceasefire proposal. Israel’s war cabinet responded by voting to continue the planned military operation in Rafah, and the IDF carried out new air-strikes on targets in the southern Gaza city. The strikes came as Palestinians in Gaza were celebrating Hamas’ announcement, and Israeli protestors in several cities joined families of the hostages to demand that Israel accept the deal.

The Hamas announcement followed Israel’s evacuation orders for parts of Rafah.

KAN, Israel’s public broadcaster, reported that the proposal was made by the mediators without Israeli involvement. An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, later told Reuters that Hamas had accepted a “softened” version with “far-reaching” consequences that Israel could not accept. “This would appear to be a ruse intended to make Israel look like the side refusing a deal,” the Israeli official said.

Reuters reported some of the details of the proposal, which would have three phases, based on statements from Hamas officials and “an official briefed on the talks.” The first phase would include a 42-day ceasefire, the release of 33 Israeli hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners, a partial withdrawal of Israeli forces in Gaza, and the return of Palestinians to northern Gaza. The second phase would include another 42-day ceasefire, an agreement to restore “sustainable calm,” the complete withdrawal of Israeli troops in Gaza, and the release of captive Israeli soldiers and reservists in exchange for the release of more Palestinian prisoners. The third phase would include the exchange of bodies, the implementation of a reconstruction plan for Gaza, and the end of the blockade on the Strip.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told state media that he welcomed the deal, and urged the international community to pressure Israel to accept it. Jordan’s king warned that an Israeli attack on Rafah could lead to a “new massacre,” while the UN Secretary-General urgedIsrael and Hamas to “go the extra mile needed to make an agreement.”

US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said that the White House, which has expressed opposition to Israel invading Rafah, is studying the deal with its allies, and that the US is working to secure a ceasefire agreement. Hamas deputy official Khalil al-Hayya told Al Jazeera that mediators told them Washington is committed to implementing the agreement.

Hamas had sent a delegation to Cairo to discuss a ceasefire and hostage release proposal, and said May 5 that there was not an agreement. Earlier on May 6, a Hamas official told an Israeli reporter that negotiations were likely to be suspended and talks had seemed to break down, with the two parties accusing the other of sabotaging a deal. Israel started preparing for ground operations in Rafah, with an evacuation announcement and overnight air-strikes.

From Jurist, May 6. Used with permission.

Note: Amid reports on the ceasefire deal, Hamas fired rockets at Israeli forces near the main entry point for aid into the Gaza Strip. The strike on the Kerem Shalom crossing killed three Israeli soldiers, and Israel responded by closing the gateway. (PBS NewsHour)

Image: Workers set up tents donated by the Qatari Red Crescent in al-Mawasi, an Israeli-designated “safe zone” in Gaza. Credit: Mohamed Soulaimane/TNH

  1. World Food Program: ‘full-blown famine’ in North Gaza

    The head of the UN World Food Program says northern Gaza has entered “full-blown famine.” Cindy McCain in an NBC interview May 5 said Israeli restrictions on humanitarian deliveries to the territory have pushed civilians in the most isolated, devastated part of Gaza over the brink. Famine is now moving south in Gaza, she said. (AP)

  2. ‘Pause’ on US arms shipment to Israel

    President Biden paused a shipment of 3,500 bombs destined for Israel last week, citing concerns that the weapons might be used in a major assault on Rafah, where more than one million Palestinians in Gaza have sought safety. The White House also delayed delivery to Capitol Hill of a congressionally mandated report on whether or not the Israeli military is adhering to international humanitarian law. (PRI, NewsHour)

  3. Rafah exodus begins

    As Israel’s military campaign in the Gaza Strip enters its eighth month, tens of thousands of people are fleeing Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost city, following Israeli evacuation orders, a partial ground invasion, and intensified bombardment. (TNH)

  4. UNRWA closes East Jerusalem office after arson attacks

    The United Nationals Relief & Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) closed its East Jerusalem office on May 10 after two arson attacks from Israeli extremists. The closure follows Israeli allegations that UNRWA staff were involved in the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks. (Jurist)

  5. Thousands march in Tel Aviv for ceasefire

    Thousands of people marched in Tel Aviv on May 9 to demand a ceasefire and hostage deal, as well as a revived Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

    The march was led by Standing Together, a joint Jewish-Palestinian peace movement in Israel. Alon Lee-Green, the group’s Jewish co-director, said the march, composed of both Jewish and Palestinian protestors, was “demanding to end the war, to end the occupation and to create an Israeli-Palestinian peace of freedom, equality and independence for all.” Sally Abed, one of the group’s Palestinian leaders, said on X (formerly Twitter), “We are at a historical junction.” (Jurist)

    Protests demanding a ceasefire have also been held by kin of the hostages.

  6. US: Israel may act ‘inconsistently’ with international law

    A US Department of State report summary released to Congress May 10 found that Israel may have used US-provided weaponry in a manner “inconsistent” with international humanitarian law (IHL) obligations but could not conclude whether US weaponry was used in specific incidents.

    The State Department’s NSM-20 report acknowledged that the US government received allegations of Israeli IHL violations since Oct. 7 from “credible UN, NGO, and media sources.” Further, the State Department wrote that “certain Israeli-operated systems are entirely US-origin (e.g., crewed attack aircraft) and are likely to have been involved in incidents that raise concerns about Israel’s IHL compliance.” (Jurist)

  7. Does Biden ‘pause’ on arms shipments risk impeachment?

    Republicans are accusing Biden of breaking his pledge of “iron clad” support for Israel’s security with is announced “pause” in certain arms transfers, and some are calling for his impeachment. They argue that Biden has broken the same law as Donald Trump in 2019, when he was impeached for withholding security assistance to Ukraine. Sen. Tom Cotton, a of Arkansas said May9: “The House has no choice but to impeach Biden based on the Trump-Ukraine precedent of withholding foreign aid to help with reelection. Only with Biden, it’s true.”

    The claims are based on the Impoundment Control Act, a 1974 law which restricts a president’s ability to block funding already approved by Congress. Last month, both houses of Congress approved $17.6 billion in funding for Israel, including money for weapons and supplies for the Iron Dome missile system.

    Under the Impoundment Control Act, the White House must spend the $17.6 billion on support for Israel by September 2025, or call a vote in Congress to cancel it. Without the support of lawmakers, or a legitimate reason under the Impoundment Act, it woud then be illegal for the money to be withheld.

    However, experts say Biden has not broken the law—yet—and that any impeachment proceedings are unlikely to succeed. 

    Unlike Trump in 2019, Biden has not said he will cancel all assistance to Israel—just that he will not allow the money to be spent on munitions that could be used in Rafah. There is no requirement in the Israel supplemental last month that US funds should be spent on supporting a specific operation.

    The text of the April appropriations legislation says the US will fund the procurement of ammunition, weapons and missiles, plus supplies for the Iron Dome missile system, but it does not specify that they must be the high-payload bombs that the Pentagon blocked this week. (The Telegraph)

  8. At least 97 journalists killed in Gaza war: CPJ report

    At least 97 journalists and media works have been killed in the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said in a preliminary count of media workers released May 11. This conflict has proven to be the deadliest for media workers since CPJ began systematically documenting such tragedies in 1992. (Jurist) 

    The figure has nearly doubled since November. The CPJ has protested the targeting of media facilities in Gaza. 

    On May 5, Israel’s cabinet unanimously voted to shut down Al Jazeera in the country, immediately ordering the closure of its offices and a ban on the company’s broadcasts. (Al Jazeera)

  9. Rafah attack kills UN staffer in Gaza

    An attack in Rafah killed a United Nations staff member working there, UN Secretary-General AntĂłnio Guterres announced on May 13. Guterres’ office said that one staff member from the Department of Safety and Security (DSS) had been killed and another injured “when their UN vehicle was struck as they traveled to the European Hospital in Rafah.” Guterres called for a full investigation into the incident. (Jurist)

    Israel is accused of multiple attacks on hospitals over te course of the current Gaza war.

  10. UN leaders in urgent warning against Rafah offensive

    UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker TĂĽrk reminded world leaders on May 12 that a general assault by Israel in the Gazan city of Rafah “cannot be reconciled with the binding demands of international humanitarian law, or the binding provisional measures ordered by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).” TĂĽrk’s statement came just a day after UN Secretary-General AntĂłnio Guterres warned of the “catastrophic consequences” a full-scale invasion Rafah would bring. (Jurist) 

  11. Egypt to intervene in ICJ case against Israel

    Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on May 12 announced the country intends to file a declaration of intervention in South Africa’s case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). (Jurist)

  12. Israeli settlers attack aid convoy on West Bank

    Right-wing Israeli protesters blocked trucks carrying food supplies that were headed into Gaza on May 13 in the latest disruption to humanitarian relief for the Strip. The trucks were attacked by an Israel group called “Tsav 9” at the Tarqumiya checkpoint, west of Hebron.

    At the White House media briefing, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan slammed the attack as “a total outrage.”

    A total of 98 trucks carrying food and relief supplies were coming from Jordan, organized by the  Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization (JHCO).(CBS News, Guardian News, Al Monitor)

    Israeli protesters have previously blocked aid trucks near the Gaza border.

  13. Biden plans to send $1 billion arms shipment to Israel

    The White House has told Congress it plans to send more than $1 billion in new weapons to Israel. The package would include $700 million in tank ammunition, $500m in tactical vehicles and $60 million in mortar rounds. The White House notification is part of a process mandated by federal law when a US arms sales to a foreign nation exceeds a set amount. (BBC News)

  14. Israel has no plan for Gaza after Hamas rule: defense chief

    Amid growing frustration in Israel over where the war is headed eight months in, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on May 15 accused the Netanyahu government of ignoring his requests to discuss a replacement to Hamas rule in Gaza. “Since October, I have been raising this issue consistently in the Cabinet, and have received no response,” Gallant said in a speech that was broadcast live. (NPR)

  15. Israeli air-strike kills one, wounds eight in West Bank’s Jenin

    A Palestinian militant was killed and eight other people wounded May 17 in an Israeli airstrike on the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank. The armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) group named the killed man as member Islam Khamayseh.

    The Israeli military said a fighter jet and helicopter conducted the strike, a rarity in the West Bank. (TNA)

  16. Israel recovers bodies of three hostages in Gaza

    The Israel Defense Forces announced on May 17 that it had retrieved the bodies of three Israeli hostages who were killed during the October 7 attacks. The IDF identified the three individuals as Itzhak Gelerenter, Amit Buskila and Shani Louk. (Jurist)

  17. Gaza fighting escalates, Hezbollah strikes north Israel

    Fighting has returned to Gaza’s north as Hamas launches an insurgent counter-offensive there, prompting new Israeli ai-strikes. aza City’s Zeitoun neighborhood has been particularly hard hit.

    Meanwhie, two people suffered injuries when dozens of Hezbollah rockets struck Israel’s Galilee region May 17. Air-raid sirens sounded across the Upper Galilee, Kiryat Shmona, and southern Golan Heights areas. The military reported intercepting some of the incoming fire. (Israel Hayom)

  18. Protesters and police clash in Tel Aviv

    Israeli police used water-cannon and scuffles with anti-government protesters blocking a main highway in Tel Aviv May 18. Thousands protested across Israel calling for elections and the release of hostages. (Reuters, Haaretz)

    The protests come as a split in the government deepens, with war cabinet member Benny Gantz threatening to resign from the government if it doesn’t adopt a long-term plan for the fate of Gaza. (AP)

  19. UN aid chief warns of ‘apocalyptic’ consequences for Gaza

    The chief of the UN Office of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Martin Griffiths warned May 19 of “apocalyptic” consequences in Gaza if humanitarian aid is not increased. In a statement to AFP news, Griffiths stated, “If fuel runs out and aid doesn’t reach those in need, the famine we’ve warned about will no longer be looming—it will be present.” (Jurist)

  20. Israel shuts down AP operations in Gaza​

    Israeli officials from the Ministry of Communications seized equipment from the Associated Press on May 21 and took down the news organization’s live feed of northern Gaza. Shlomo Karhi, the country’s communications minister, said on Twitter that a recently passed media law allowed the communications ministry to cut the feed and claimed the AP was supporting Al Jazeera, which was recently shuttered by Israeli authorities after being accused of supporting terrorist activity. (Jurist)

  21. Israel officials return AP equipment after seizure

    Israeli Minister of Communication Shlomo Karhi ordered the return of Associated Press equipment May 21 after officials from the ministry seized it and took down the news organization’s live feed of northern Gaza earlier in the day. Karhi said that the defense ministry was re-examining the issue and that the equipment would be returned until further notice. (Jurist)