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Israel-Gaza Live: Israel takes control of Rafah Crossing aid route

The day so far

A Palestinian man watches as smoke rises in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip May 7, 2024. REUTERS/Hatem Khaled
  • Israel’s military seized control of Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt
  • The crossing, a vital route for aid into the devastated enclave, was closed
  • Israeli tanks and planes attacked several areas and houses in Rafah overnight
  • Israel said its operation was meant to kill fighters and dismantle Hamas infrastructure
  • Egypt and Hamas said the Israeli operation threatened ceasefire efforts
  • The offensive took place as mediators struggled to secure a ceasefire agreement
  • Hamas said on Monday it had agreed to a ceasefire proposal
  • But Israel said the terms did not meet its demands
  • Negotiations are due to continue in Cairo on Tuesday

‘This morning is one of the darkest’ -UN aid official said

18:07 SAST

Here’s a video roundup of Tuesday’s developments

17:56 SAST

The following video contains images some viewers may find disturbing.

Our colleague Olivia Chan explained how events unfolded after Israel’s push into the southern Gazan town of Rafah following a night of air strikes on the Palestinian enclave.

The Israeli team has arrived in Cairo

17:47 SAST

Dan Williams

A team of mid-ranking Israeli officials has arrived in Cairo to assess whether Hamas can be persuaded to shift on its latest ceasefire offer, citing a senior Israeli official said.

An Israeli government spokesperson said in a briefing earlier that Israel’s objective remains to destroy Hamas.

“We’re always open to a diplomatic resolution… but I must tell you that this operation in Rafah is designed to destroy the last four battalions of Hamas. This country will be protected, and Hamas will be completely annihilated,” said David Mencer.

Israel’s Netanyahu said Hamas’ truce proposal fell far short of essential demands

17:36 SAST

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the latest truce proposal from Hamas fell far short of Israel’s essential demands, adding that military pressure remainsed necessary to return hostages held in Gaza, Maaytal Angel reports.

Israeli forces earlier took control of the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza, a move Netanyahu said was “a very significant step towards destruction of remaining military capabilities of Hamas.”

Injured Gazans in Rafah

17:12 SAST

A Palestinian woman held a girl wounded in an Israeli strike at a hospital in Rafah, Gaza. May 7, 2024. REUTERS/Hatem Khaled

In Berlin, police cleared a pro-Palestinian camp at a university

17:03 SAST

German police cleared a pro-Palestinian protest camp on Tuesday at a courtyard of the Freie Universitaet Berlin, which had called for a stop to Israel’s military operation in Gaza, our colelagues Philipp Krach and Riham Alkousaa report.

Some 100 people set up two dozen tents on the campus, joining a call by the so-called “Student Coalition Berlin” to occupy German universities.

Students from various Berlin universities joined the protest, carrying Palestinian flags and shouting slogans supporting Palestinians and denouncing Israel and Germany.

The student group demanded that criminal charges be dropped against students and others who had shown solidarity with Palestinians on campuses, and for the universities to publicly oppose planned reforms to Berlin’s senate that would enable the expulsion of students on political grounds.

Turkey said Israel’s attack on Rafah showed it was not acting in good faith

16:52 SAST

Israel’s ground attacks on Rafah, a day after Hamas accepted a ceasefire proposal, showed its government was not acting in good faith, Turkey’s foreign ministry spokesman said on Tuesday, adding Israel must immediately withdraw from the city.

In a post on social media platform X, spokesman Oncu Keceli said Israel’s operation came “amid such a positive development towards ending the destruction and massacre in Gaza”, and said the status quo in Rafah and the border crossing must be restored without further delay.

“An offensive on Rafah will affect not only the region but the whole world. Israel must immediately withdraw from the Gaza side of the Rafah border crossing,” Keceli said.

An Israeli hostage died from injuries caused by Israeli shelling, Hamas said

16:10 SAST

A 70-year-old Israeli hostage has died from wounds caused by Israeli shelling, Abu Ubaida, a spokesperson for Hamas’ armed wing the Qassam Brigades, said in a statement.

He offered no evidence, and Reuters was not able to verify the report.

Diplomacy or force? Israelis were divided over how to retrieve the Oct. 7 hostages

16:07 SAST

Israel faced a dilemma to either agree to a truce deal under disputed terms to release its hostages from Gaza or keep fighting Hamas and expand its military campaign further into Rafah.

Our colleague Dedi Hayun talked to Israelis living in Jerusalem about the choices faced by Israel, weighing the worry for hostages who have been held in Gaza for 7 months and the threat Hamas poses to their country.

In order of appearance: David Taub, Jackie Rebibo, Elisheva Leibler, Dan Belman.

Egypt is hosting Qatar, the US and Hamas

16:03 SAST

Cairo is hosting delegations from Qatar, the United States, and Hamas to try to reach a comprehensive truce in Gaza, Egypt’s state-affiliated Al-Qahera News TV said on Tuesday, citing a high-ranking source.

‘A political calamity and a humanitarian nightmare’

15:45 SAST

FILE PHOTO: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on March 25, 2024. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Sukhni

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday appealed to Israel and Hamas to spare no effort to get a truce deal and warned Israel that an assault on Rafah would “be a strategic mistake, a political calamity, and a humanitarian nightmare.”

“I am disturbed and distressed by the renewed military activity in Rafah,” Guterres told reporters.

“The closure of both the Rafah and Karem Shalom crossings is especially damaging to an already dire humanitarian situation. They must be re-opened immediately.”

lsrael highlighted the 7-month anniversary of Hamas’ Oct. 7 cross-border attack

15:18 SAST

Stephen Farrell

The WFP voiced concern over its stocks of food

15:02 SAST

Stephen Farrell

Israel said its objective was still to destroy Hamas

15:00 SAST

An Israeli government spokesman said its negotiators would leave for Cairo shortly, and the way for the conflict to end is for Hamas to lay down their arms and return the hostages.

READ:  Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt closed due to security

The spokesman also said aid continued to flow into Gaza.

The U.S. made clear to Israel its views on the Rafah operation, the State Dept. said

14:57 SAST

The United States has made its views clear to Israel on a major ground invasion of Rafah, a State Department spokesperson said on Tuesday in Washington’s first response since Israeli forces seized control of the border crossing with Gaza.

“We continue to believe that a hostage deal is in the best interest of the Israeli and the Palestinian people; it would bring an immediate ceasefire and allow increased humanitarian assistance into Gaza,” the spokesperson said in an email.

A mid-level Israeli team will head to Cairo to assess Hamas’ position, an Israeli official said

14:55 SAST

Dan Williams

A team of mid-ranking Israeli officials will travel to Cairo in coming hours to assess whether Hamas can be persuaded to shift on its latest ceasefire offer in the Israel-Gaza conflict, a senior Israeli official said.

The official reiterated that the current proposal was unacceptable to Israel.

“This delegation is made up of mid-level envoys. Were there a credible deal in the offing, the principals would be heading the delegation,” the official told Reuters.

The proposal that Hamas accepted took the basic framework of a proposal from April 27 and stretched it to “unacceptable extremes”, the official said.

It was based around a halt in fighting and a return of some of the more than 130 Israeli hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners in Israel.

FILE PHOTO: Marwan Barghouti attends a deliberation at Jerusalem Magistrate’s court January 25, 2012. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

However, another official said Hamas had agreed to the phased ceasefire and hostage release deal Israel proposed on April 27 with only minor changes that did not affect the main parts of the proposal.

The new demand would not allow Israel to veto the release of specific Palestinian prisoners.

Those included Marwan Barghouti, a leader from the Fatah faction currently serving a life sentence for his role in mounting deadly attacks against Israelis.

“Hamas wants them all to be eligible and for Israel to have no say in the matter,” the official said.

Read the full story here.

BREAKING NEWS: The Israeli government has called on international organizations to evacuate Rafah

14:44 SAST

A government spokesman said the organizations should evacuate Rafah regions where the military is operating.

‘Panic and despair’ were gripping people in Rafah, a U.N. humanitarian official said

14:37 SAST

Mohammed Salem
Nidal Al-Mughrabi

In Geneva, U.N. humanitarian office spokesperson Jens Laerke said “panic and despair” were gripping the people in Rafah.

He said that under international law people must have adequate time to prepare for an evacuation, and have a safe route to a safe area with access to aid.

This was not the case in the Rafah evacuation, he said.

“It’s littered with unexploded ordnance, massive bombs lying in the street. It’s not safe,” he said.

On Tuesday morning, people searched for bodies under the rubble of wrecked buildings.

Raed al-Derby said his wife and children had been killed.

Standing in the street, anguish etched on his face, he told Reuters: “We’re patient and we will remain steadfast on this land.. We are waiting for liberation and this battle will be for liberation, God willing.”

More than one million people have sought refuge in Rafah, living in tented camps and makeshift shelters. Many are trying to leave, heeding Israeli orders for them to evacuate, but with large areas of the coastal enclave already laid to waste, they say they have nowhere safe to go to.

The Israeli military said a limited operation in Rafah was meant to kill fighters and dismantle infrastructure used by Hamas, which governs Gaza.

Read the full story here.

The U.N. said a maternity hospital could be compromised

14:25 SAST

Israel says rockets and mortar shells were fired from Gaza

14:22 SAST

Smoke rose over Rafah on Tuesday morning after Israeli strikes

14:06 SAST

Smoke rises after Israeli strikes in the eastern part of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip May 7, 2024. REUTERS/Hatem Khaled
Smoke rises over Rafah, May 7, 2024. REUTERS/Hatem Khaled

Why is the Rafah crossing so important to Gaza?

13:49 SAST

FILE PHOTO: A line of trucks waiting on an Egyptian road near the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip May 2, 2024. REUTERS/Oren Alon

Israel controls all sea and air access to Gaza and most of its land borders.

Rafah, previously the only crossing not run by Israel, has been a lifeline to the outside world for Palestinians in Gaza, allowing the delivery of aid and the evacuation of patients from a collapsed healthcare system.

Read more on its significance here.

Gaza is ‘choked off’ from aid since the crossings closed, UN agencies say

13:32 SAST

Emma Farge

U.N. agencies said the two main crossings into the southern Gaza Strip remained shut, virtually cutting off the Palestinian enclave from outside aid with few stocks positioned inside.

The global agency’s humanitarian office spokesperson Jens Laerke told journalists Israel had shut both the Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings for aid and people as part of its military operation in Rafah, where around 1 million uprooted people are sheltering.

“The two main arteries for getting aid into Gaza are currently choked off,” Laerke said, adding U.N. agencies had very low stocks inside the Gaza Strip since humanitarian supplies were consumed immediately.

The enclave has just a one-day buffer of fuel stocks, he said.

“If no fuel comes in for a prolonged period of time it would be a very effective way of putting the humanitarian operation in its grave,” he said.

A World Health Organization spokesperson said that no exceptions were being made for sick and injured patients.

While some non-fuel supplies have entered Gaza via the northern Israeli-controlled Erez crossing in recent days, the U.N. agencies said this was insufficient and difficult to deliver to Rafah since it meant crossing active combat zones.

“Erez will simply not be enough,” said James Elder, a spokesperson for the United Nations children’s agency. “If Rafah gate closes for an extended period, it’s hard to see how famine in Gaza can be averted,” he said.

READ:  Blast, ambulances heard near Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza, witnesses say

Even before the latest escalation in the seven-month-old conflict, the United Nations has repeatedly accused Israel of restricting aid access despite famine warnings. Faced with growing international pressure, Israel had pledged to improve access but says U.N. agencies are to blame for not distributing aid more efficiently within the enclave.

U.N. agencies said they had pre-stocked some aid within Rafah but said there were very low supplies of water and high-energy nutrition supplies needed to treat malnourished children.

The Israeli military said a limited operation in Rafah was meant to kill fighters and dismantle infrastructure used by Hamas, which governs the besieged Palestinian territory.

Here’s what we know so far on Tuesday

13:19 SAST

The Israeli military said it has taken operational control of the Palestinian side of Gaza’s southern Rafah Crossing, our colleagues James Mackenzie and Nidal Al-Mughrabi report.

Rafah, the only Gaza crossing not run by Israel, has been the main lifeline to the outside world for Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians.

The Palestinian ‘Gaza Crossings Authority’ said in a statement that Israel’s takeover was a “death sentence” against Gazans, particularly the ill and injured.

The Israeli military said a limited operation in Rafah was meant to kill fighters and dismantle infrastructure used by Hamas.

Palestinian health officials said Israeli tanks and planes pounded Rafah overnight, killing 20 Palestinians and wounding several others.

Israel has killed more than 34,700 Palestinians in its air, ground and sea assault on Gaza, according to Gaza health officials.

The U.N. has said famine is underway in northern Gaza and is making its way to the south.

Read the full wrapup here.

The PA called on the U.S. to ‘intervene immediately’

13:14 SAST

The Palestinian Authority called on the United States to “intervene immediately” to prevent Israel from invading Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah, the official Palestinian WAFA news agency reported on Tuesday.

Palestinians prepare to evacuate Rafah

13:06 SAST

Rafah, Gaza, May 7, 2024. REUTERS/Hatem Khaled
Rafah, Gaza, May 7, 2024. REUTERS/Hatem Khaled
Rafah, Gaza, May 7, 2024. REUTERS/Hatem Khaled

UN refugee agency said they will stay in Rafah

13:00 SAST

May 7, 2024. X/UNRWA

12:45 SAST

Barbara Lewis

Oil prices edged higher, then steadied on Tuesday.

For months, the market has been caught between nervousness the conflict in Gaza will lead to supply disruption and the impact of adequate supplies and weak demand.

A mid-level Israeli team is heading to Cairo to assess the Hamas position, an Israeli official said

12:37 SAST

A team of mid-ranking Israeli officials will go to Cairo in the next few hours to assess whether Hamas can be persuaded to shift on its latest ceasefire offer, a senior Israeli official said on Tuesday.

The official reiterated that the proposal as it stands was unacceptable to Israel.

“This delegation is made up of mid-level envoys. Were there a credible deal in the offing, the principals would be heading the delegation,” the official told Reuters.

Hamas said Israel’s Rafah incursion aimed to undermine ceasefire efforts

12:37 SAST

Gazan casualties were treated in a tent on the grounds of the Rafah’s Kuwaiti Hospital

12:14 SAST

The following video contains images some viewers may find disturbing.

The Gaza health ministry said Israeli strikes across the enclave had killed 54 Palestinians and wounded 96 others in the past 24 hours.

‘Everywhere you look, there’s fear,’ a UN refugee agency official in Rafah said

11:57 SAST

What is in the proposed ceasefire deal?

11:53 SAST

FILE PHOTO: A displaced Palestinian child in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip May 6, 2024. REUTERS/Hatem Khaled

Hamas said on Monday it had agreed to a three-phased deal for a ceasefire and hostages-for-prisoners swap.

An Israeli official said the deal was not acceptable to Israel because terms had been “softened”.

Based on details announced so far by Hamas officials, a copy of the proposal and an official briefed on the talks, the deal that the Palestinian group said it had agreed to include the following in phase one:

  • A 42-day ceasefire period.
  • Hamas freeing 33 Israeli hostages, alive or dead, in return for Israel releasing 30 children and women for each released Israeli hostage.
  • Starting from the first day of the ceasefire, the entry of intensive and sufficient quantities of humanitarian aid, relief materials, and fuel.
  • Hamas will release three Israeli hostages on the third day of the agreement, and then release three more hostages every seven days.
  • In the sixth week, Hamas will release all remaining civilian hostages covered by this phase. In exchange, Israel will release the agreed number of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons.
  • Israel partially withdraws troops from Gaza and allows the free movement of Palestinians from south to north Gaza.
  • Cessation of military flights over the Gaza Strip will take place for 10 hours per day and 12 hours on the day of releasing the hostages and prisoners.
  • On the third day after releasing the first Palestinian prisoners, the Israeli forces will completely withdraw from al-Rashid street in northern Gaza, and all military sites will be dismantled.
  • On the 22nd day of the first phase, Israeli forces will withdraw from the centre of the strip, east of Salah al-Din road to an area near the Israeli border.

For details of the rest of the proposed deal, read our full story here.

Turkey said Israel’s Rafah operation was a war crime

11:51 SAST

“By carrying out a ground attack on Rafah, just a day after Hamas approved Qatar and Egypt’s proposal for a ceasefire deal, Israel has added another to the war crimes it has committed in Palestinian territories since October 7,” Turkish Vice President Cevdet Yilmaz said on X about the latest development in the Israel-Gaza conflict

Ankara would continue working for the Israeli leadership to be legally punished, he added.

Israel’s military said it was carrying out a limited operation in Rafah intended to kill fighters and dismantle infrastructure used by Hamas.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office put out a statement on Monday saying Israel would “continue its operation in Rafah, in order to apply military pressure on Hamas so as to advance the release of our hostages and achieve the other objectives of the war.”

Rafah residents on Tuesday morning searched through buildings damaged by Israeli strikes

11:21 SAST

Egypt has condemned Israel’s military operation in Rafah

11:16 SAST

READ:  Gaza aid stuck as Egypt says Israel not cooperating

Egypt in a statement also said the “dangerous escalation” was a threat to more than a million Palestinians and risked efforts to achieve a permanent ceasefire.

Gaza only has a one-day buffer of fuel supplies, the UN Humanitarian Office said

11:12 SAST

The UN Humanitarian spokesperson also said denying fuel into Gaza for a prolonged period would put the Gaza aid operation “in its grave”.

The EU’s top diplomat said more civilians could be killed in Israel’s Rafah offensive

11:07 SAST

The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell said the assault on Rafah could be deadly for civilians.

“The Rafah offensive has started again, in spite all the requests of the international community, the U.S., the European Union member states, everybody asking Netanyahu not to attack,” Borrell told reporters in Brussels on Tuesday, ahead of the EU Foreign Affairs Council.

“I am afraid that this is going to cause again a lot of casualties, civilian casualties,” he said. “There are no safe zones in Gaza.”

11:07 SAST

The UN Humanitarian Office said the two main arteries for getting aid into Gaza are ‘choked off’

10:59 SAST

The spokesperson also said the Israeli authorities had refused the UN Humanitarian office’s request to get to the Rafah crossing area.

Developments early on Tuesday

10:58 SAST

Israeli military operates in the Gazan side of the Rafah Crossing in this screengrab taken from a handout video released on May 7, 2024. Israel Defense Forces/Handout via REUTERS

Rafah, the only crossing not run by Israel, has been the main lifeline to the outside world for Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians during the seven-month Israel-Gaza conflict.

Humanitarian supplies and patients have moved through it into Egypt during severe shortages and the destruction of healthcare facilities.

Here’s what we know so far on Tuesday from our colleagues Nidal Al-Mughrabi andJames Mackenzie.

  • Palestinian health officials said Israeli tanks and planes pounded several areas in Rafah overnight, killing 20 Palestinians and wounding several others in hits on at least four houses.
  • Residents said Israel had again dropped leaflets, as on Monday, warning people to leave areas in eastern Rafah.
  • The Israeli military said most people and some international organizations had evacuated the area of eastern Rafah where it was operating.
  • It said a limited operation in Rafah was meant to kill fighters and dismantle infrastructure used by Hamas.
  • It said it killed some 20 fighters and found three tunnel shafts.
  • Israeli tanks shelled eastern areas of Beit Lahiya, Jabalia, and Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, residents said.
  • The Palestinian ‘Gaza Crossings Authority’ said in a statement that Israel’s takeover was a “death sentence” against Gazans, particularly the ill and injured.

Israel’s closest ally, the United States, has advised against an assault in Rafah, the last refuge for around half of Gaza’s population.

The Israeli military released footage of its troops entering the Rafah crossing

10:38 SAST

The video, which had ground and drone shots of tanks driving in the area, was released early on Tuesday.

Oil prices edged higher

10:27 SAST

Barbara Lewis

Oil prices edged higher after Israel struck Rafah in Gaza and talks for a ceasefire hung in the balance.

Brent crude futures rose 21 cents, or 0.3%, to $83.54 a barrel by 0810 GMT while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 1 cent at $78.49.

Read the full story here.

The scene around Rafah on Tuesday morning

10:27 SAST

A Palestinian man stands inside a house damaged in an Israeli strike in Rafah, Gaza, May 7, 2024. REUTERS/Hatem Khaled 
Palestinians inspect houses damaged in an Israeli strike in Rafah, Gaza, May 7, 2024. REUTERS/Hatem Khaled
A Palestinian man looks out of a house damaged in an Israeli strike in Rafah, Gaza, May 7, 2024. REUTERS/Hatem Khaled 

What happened on Monday?

10:18 SAST

Kylie MacLellan
FILE PHOTO: Displaced Palestinians who fled Rafah travel to Khan Younis, May 6, 2024. REUTERS/Ramadan Abed
  • Israel ordered the evacuation of parts of Rafah in south Gaza
  • Palestinians fled, fearing an Israeli assault
  • Hamas said it had agreed to a three-phase ceasefire deal
  • An Israeli official said the deal was unacceptable because terms were “softened”
  • The U.S. said it would would discuss the Hamas response with allies
  • Washington called on Israel not to assault Rafah
  • Israel said it would continue its Rafah operation “to apply military pressure on Hamas”

You can see our full live page coverage from Monday here.

The United Nations refugee agency warned of ‘catastrophic hunger’ if supply routes are interrupted

10:16 SAST

Israeli military has taken Gaza’s Rafah crossing – Live coverage

10:08 SAST

Stephen Farrell
Kylie MacLellan
Israeli military vehicles operate on the Gaza side of the Rafah Crossing n this screengrab taken from a handout video released on May 7, 2024. Israel Defense Forces/Handout

Overnight, the Israeli military took control of the vital Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt on Tuesday, pushing into the southern Gazan town after a night of airstrikes and as prospects for a ceasefire deal hung in the balance. 

The Rafah crossing is the only gateway for Palestinians to the outside world that is not, usually, under Israeli control. 

The Israeli military said its forces had been operating overnight in a specific area of eastern Rafah, from which it said most people and some international organizations had evacuated. 

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In an early morning press briefing, it also said the larger Kerem Shalom crossing from Israel into Gaza remained closed on Tuesday for security reasons, after the crossing came under deadly attack from Hamas on Sunday. It will reopen once the security situation allows, they said. 

 The seizure of the crossing comes on the second day of Israeli military operations in and around Gaza’s southernmost city, where more than one million Palestinians have taken shelter after seven months of fighting.

On Monday Hamas agreed to a Gaza ceasefire proposal from international mediators, but Israel said the terms did not meet its demands and pressed ahead with strikes in Rafah.

A Qatari delegation will head to Cairo on Tuesday to resume indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas through mediators. 

Stay with us for the latest updates.

 

By KYLIE MACLELLAN, STEPHEN FARRELL, BARBARA LEWIS, VIN SHAHRESTANI and FAROUQ SULEIMAN

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