Negotiators involved in Qatari-mediated peace efforts between Israel and Hamas are said to be scrambling to salvage talks after the deadly aid convoy incident. The death toll from that Thursday incident has reportedly risen to 118.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent statement concerning the plan to evacuate civilians from Rafah and launch a ground operation to eliminate Hamas brigades in the city wasn’t received well by the Egyptian authorities. In fact, Israel’s military scenario has jeopardized the Camp David Peace Accords between Cairo and Tel Aviv. For the first time since they were signed in 1979, the agreements are in danger of being suspended.
The Egyptian Air Force has airlifted at least 50 tons of various kinds of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, the Al-Qahira Al-Ekhbariya TV channel reported citing senior Egyptian officials.
According to the channel, Egyptian aircraft successfully dropped ten tons of foodstuffs on northern Gaza. At least 45 tons of humanitarian aid were dropped, in addition to the northern areas, in the central parts of the enclave, with the active involvement of Jordan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The countdown has begun for Rafah. Israel repeated on Sunday its threats of carrying out a major ground attack against the southern Gaza city before the start of Ramadan: the holy month in Islam, during which Muslims fast, is expected to begin around March 10.
On Saturday, western news agencies reported that closed-door negotiations took place in Paris that were aimed at reaching an agreement on a ceasefire in Gaza. According to Reuters the talks represented “the most serious push for weeks to halt the fighting in the battered Palestinian enclave and see Israeli and foreign hostages released.” Regrettably, the reports from Paris were largely a media-engineered deception intended to divert attention from the real purpose of the confab.
The Israeli Knesset has overwhelmingly backed a resolution put forward by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that rejects a “unilateral” creation of a Palestinian state.
Ninety-nine lawmakers out of 120 in the Knesset voted in favor of the resolution. According to Ynet, Israel’s Labor Party boycotted the vote, and 11 Arab lawmakers voted against it. The majority of the leading opposition parties, National Unity and Yesh Atid, voted in favor.
Israel's home front is preparing for a possible escalation in its conflict with Lebanon's militant group Hezbollah, fearing attacks on the power grid and the deployment of devastating "Volcano" (Iranian-made Burkan) missiles.
Since October, Egypt has joined most of the international community in calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. With Egypt being the only Arab country to border Gaza, Cairo’s stakes are high. The longer Israel’s war on the besieged enclave continues, the threats to Egypt’s economy, national security, and political stability will become more serious.