Palestinians wait to cross into Egypt through the Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip, on August 16, 2017. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

By Kyle Anzalone /

Israel has informed Egyptian mediators that Hamas has one week to agree to a hostage deal or Tel Aviv will begin the invasion of Rafah. The Israeli proposal does not offer a permanent ceasefire, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared the attack on the city will occur with or without the release of hostages.

Egyptian negotiators informed the Wall Street Journal about Israel’s one-week deadline on Friday. Tel Aviv’s latest proposal calls for Hamas to release 33 hostages over 40 days while mediators try to hammer out an agreement for the remaining 100 captives.

The Israeli offer does not satisfy Hamas’s core demand that Tel Aviv agree to a permanent end to the fighting. A Hamas delegation is expected to arrive in Egypt on Saturday to continue negotiations, with CIA Director William Burns also set to travel to Cairo for the talks.

On Tuesday, Netanyahu said that the invasion of Rafah would happen with or without a hostage deal. “The idea that we will halt the war before achieving all of its goals is out of the question,” the PM told representatives of hostage families. “We will enter Rafah and we will eliminate the Hamas battalions there – with or without a deal, in order to achieve the total victory.”

Throughout Israel’s seven-month onslaught in Gaza, the IDF has driven Palestinian civilians to the south, toward the border with Egypt. Now, 1.5 million people are packed into the southern city of Rafah, where humanitarian organizations have warned of catastrophe should Israel press on with a ground assault.

The White House is not opposed to an attack on Rafah but says Israel must present a plan to account for the civilians before operations begin. On Friday, POLITICO reported that Tel Aviv had informed aid agencies and Washington that the Palestinians would be pushed into the al-Mawasi area just north of Rafah and given tents.

In January, +972 Magazine reported that al-Mawasi was already overcrowded. Additionally, the region lacks the infrastructure needed to sustain life. One displaced Palestine in al-Mawasi told the outlet, “I don’t know what happened to my house, but I cannot live in this desert,” she said.

“There is no water and no food. My children are going to sleep hungry, and I don’t know what to do for them,” she continued. “They wake up at night in pain from the cold. I tell them that tomorrow we will return home. Be patient. I do not know if I am being honest. But I do hope to return home. No one is comfortable here.”

An Israeli official said soldiers are waiting for orders to attack Rafah. “Soldiers are on call waiting. If we’re going to go in, maybe that’s the only thing that will get Hamas to sign a temporary cease-fire and return some of our hostages,” Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, Israel’s special envoy for foreign affairs, explained. “We will go into Rafah – we have to at some point because the five last battalions of Hamas terrorists are there.”

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Kyle Anzalone

Kyle Anzalone is the opinion editor of, news editor of the Libertarian Institute, and co-host of Conflicts of Interest.

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