The Israeli army on Thursday intensified its bombing of the city of Rafah, a refuge for hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, in the midst of negotiations for a truce, when the war has already been going on for four months.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday ordered his forces to prepare an operation in this city in the far south of the Palestinian territory, on the border with Egypt.
It was after Netanyahu rejected the response of the ultra-Islamic movement Hamas to the ceasefire proposal presented by the mediators.
The objective is to achieve a truce in exchange for the release of dozens of hostages who remain in the enclave, in the hands of the terrorists who savagely attacked southern Israel on October 7, and the release of many Palestinians from Israeli prisons. .
Both parties remain very far apart regarding conditions. The mediators – Qatar, Egypt and the United States – are working to settle the differences. Here, a summary of the objectives of each of the parties and the points of contention.
A building destroyed by an Israeli bombing in Rafah, Gaza, this Thursday. Photo: EFE
What Israel wants
The Jewish state basically wants to expel Hamas from power in Gaza. Their main objective in the war against this extremist group is to destroy their military and government capabilities. The ultra-Islamic group has controlled Gaza since it took over the territory in 2007.
Following the Hamas attack on October 7, in which 1,200 people died and 250 were taken captive, According to Israeli authorities, Israel has promised to ensure that the group does not again pose a threat to its citizens. He also states that he wants maintain security control indefinitely on the territory once the war ended.
But Hamas will seek to prevent Israel from achieving its objectives. The group is determined to maintain its control over the Palestinian enclave.
What Hamas wants
The extremist group demands the release of hundreds of veteran Palestinian militiamen imprisoned in Israel.
The Jewish state is holding thousands of Palestinians on minor or more serious charges – or, in some cases, no charges at all – related to the protracted conflict.
Israel has agreed to unequal exchanges for its prisoners in the past. In one of these deals, in 2011, Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit was freed from Hamas captivity in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners.
Among those freed was Yehya Sinwar, the current leader of Hamas in Gaza, who is considered one of the masterminds of the October 7 attack that sparked the war.
Hamas wants the release of hundreds of prisoners and is expected to call for the release of militants who were involved in some of the deadliest attacks carried out against Israelis. Prime Minister Netanyahu and his far-right allies in the government oppose a pact that includes these high-ranking militants. They are also likely to reject the request to release such a large number of prisoners.
Benjamin Netanyahu received US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday on tour to negotiate a possible truce between Israel and Hamas. Photo: EFE
The fate of the prisoners arouses much apprehension. On the one hand, Israel considers them terrorists; on the other, Palestinians see them as heroes fighting against the Israeli occupation. Virtually every Palestinian has a friend, relative or acquaintance who has been detained by Israel.
The end of the war
Netanyahu's government wants to resume fighting after the release of the hostages. Hamas, on the other hand, wants to ensure in advance the commitment that the release of all the hostages will lead to the end of the war.
The Israeli Prime Minister says Israel will continue fighting until “total victory” over Hamas. Israel wants to maintain its armed force in the Gaza Strip to continue dismantling the militant group's extensive network of underground tunnels, neutralize rocket launchers and kill militants to achieve its goal of destroying Hamas' military capabilities.
The war has already caused a widespread destruction, It has left parts of Gaza uninhabitable, displaced four-fifths of the population and unleashed a humanitarian catastrophe that has left a quarter of the population starving.
Hamas wants Israel to commit to a permanent ceasefire before beginning to negotiate a gradual release of all hostages.