Israel-Hamas War, Day 204: Hamas says it is “studying” a counter-proposal for an Israeli truce; a meeting in Riyadh to discuss the situation

Despite fears and calls for restraint from the international community, Israel was still preparing, on Saturday April 27, to launch a ground offensive in Rafah, a town in the south of the Gaza Strip where a million and a half Palestinians are crowded together

Israel-Hamas War, Day 204: Hamas says it is “studying” a counter-proposal for an Israeli truce; a meeting in Riyadh to discuss the situation

Despite fears and calls for restraint from the international community, Israel was still preparing, on Saturday April 27, to launch a ground offensive in Rafah, a town in the south of the Gaza Strip where a million and a half Palestinians are crowded together. , many in tent camps, without water or electricity.

Hospital officials in Rafah said bombings left more than a dozen dead on the night of Friday April 26 to Saturday April 27. Elsewhere in the city, people searched through the rubble of homes that, according to a young witness at the scene, were “bombed without prior warning.” On Saturday, the Israeli military said its planes had struck more than 25 targets over the previous day in the enclave.

In twenty-four hours, at least 32 additional deaths were recorded, according to a statement from the Hamas health ministry, which reported more than 34,388 Palestinian deaths in the Gaza Strip in more than 200 days of war. On the Israeli side, the conflict that began on October 7 resulted in the death of more than 1,170 people, mainly civilians, according to a report from Agence France-Presse (AFP) based on official Israeli data.

Hamas announced on Saturday that it was "studying" an Israeli counter-proposal with a view to a truce in the fighting in Gaza associated with the release of hostages, the day after the arrival in Israel of a delegation of Egyptian mediators to try to relaunch the deadlocked negotiations. “Today, Hamas received the official response from the Zionist occupation [Israel], to our position which was delivered to the Egyptian and Qatari mediators on April 13,” declared the number 2 of the political branch of Hamas for Gaza, Khalil Al-Hayya. “The movement will study this proposal and submit its response once its study is completed,” he added in a press release published the same day.

Hamas had previously insisted on a permanent ceasefire, a hypothesis rejected by Israel, which instead insisted on a pause of several weeks in the fighting. The details of the Israeli counter-proposal have not filtered out, but the Israeli press mentioned earlier this week the possible release, initially, of 20 hostages considered to be “humanitarian cases”.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and several international leaders will travel to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, this week for talks on a peace deal in the Gaza Strip, on the sidelines of a meeting of the World Economic Forum. At a press conference, the organization’s president, Borge Brende, said: “We now have the key players in Riyadh and we hope that the discussions can lead to a process of reconciliation and peace. » There will also be “discussions, of course, on the humanitarian situation in Gaza”, while “regional aspects, including with Iran, will be discussed” in a meeting which could “become very important”, he added.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will attend the meetings in the Saudi capital alongside regional leaders, including the prime minister of Qatar, the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia, the crown prince of Oman and officials Bahrainis, Mr. Brende said.

Three people, including two Hezbollah fighters, were killed in Israeli strikes that targeted several towns in southern Lebanon overnight, the Shiite party reported on Saturday. The official National News Agency, ANI, for its part reported that "Israeli combat planes carried out two raids today [Saturday] at dawn on the towns of Kfar Chouba and Chebaa", which resulted in “the death of citizen Qasim Asaad” in Kfar Chouba.

In recent hours, several towns in southern Lebanon have been subjected to Israeli strikes which, according to ANI, caused material damage. Hezbollah also announced in a press release on Saturday that it had “in response” targeted “new positions of enemy soldiers” west of Shumira, in northern Israel, after having targeted two military sites the day before with dozens of Katyusha rockets, in response to an Israeli strike.

Hezbollah fighters “carried out [on Saturday] a complex attack using explosive drones and guided missiles against the headquarters of the Al-Manara military command and a gathering of forces of the 51st Battalion of the Golani Brigade,” said the Lebanese Islamist movement.

Jamaa Islamiya, a Lebanese Islamist group close to Palestinian Hamas, said Friday that two of its executives had been killed in this Israeli strike in eastern Lebanon. The Israeli military confirmed that its air force “struck and eliminated Mosab Khalaf in the Meidoun region of Lebanon, a high-ranking terrorist from the Jamaa Islamiya terrorist organization who prepared a large number of terrorist attacks against Israel.” .

Two Palestinians were shot dead overnight by Israeli soldiers near a military base at the entrance to the West Bank city of Jenin, the Israeli army announced on Saturday, saying its soldiers had responded to the shots. The Palestinian Authority announced in a press release “the martyrdom of Mustapha Sultan Abed (21 years old) and Ahmad Muhammad Shawahneh (20 years old), who fell under the bullets of the occupier last night in Jenin”.

Jenin, home to one of the most populous and poor refugee camps in the Palestinian territories, is a stronghold of armed groups fighting against Israel, which has occupied the West Bank since 1967. In recent months, the Israeli army has carried out several operations to Jenin and its surroundings, to dismantle “terrorist cells”.

The influential Shiite religious leader Moqtada Sadr, a troublemaker in Iraqi political life, welcomed the pro-Palestinian demonstrations shaking American campuses on Saturday, demanding an end to the “repression” targeting the movement. “The voice of American universities calling to stop Zionist terrorism is our voice,” he insisted. Pro-Palestinian demonstrations starting from Columbia University in New York have spread to several American campuses, including prestigious establishments such as Harvard, Yale and Princeton.

The “freedom flotilla” for Gaza remained stranded in Turkey on Saturday, deprived of its navigation flag following Israeli “pressure”, according to the organizers. The coalition of NGOs and associations denounced "the administrative obstacles" which prevent them from setting sail after Guinea-Bissau withdrew its flag, making itself "accomplice" of Israel, it accuses in a communicated.