Hamas attacks Israel-Gaza border crossing as cease-fire talks appear to fizzle

Hamas militants attacked Israel’s main crossing point for delivering humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip on Sunday, dealing a blow to the ongoing crease-fire efforts that appear at an impasse with both sides blaming each other.

The attack on Israel’s Kerem Shalom crossing wounded several Israelis, Israel’s Channel 12 News reported, prompting officials to close the terminal, disrupting critical shipments of food and other humanitarian aid into Gaza.

The Israeli military reported 10 launches at the Kerem Shalom crossing. Hamas said it had been targeting Israeli soldiers in the area. Israel’s Channel 12 TV channel said 10 people were wounded, three seriously.

Israeli soldiers and medics walk near an ambulance after Palestinian Islamist group Hamas claimed responsibility for an attack on Kerem Shalom crossing
Israeli soldiers and medics walk near an ambulance after Palestinian Islamist group Hamas claimed responsibility for an attack on Kerem Shalom crossing, near Israel’s border with Gaza in southern Israel, May 5, 2024.

Amir Cohen / REUTERS

The military said the crossing was immediately closed, halting deliveries of aid from there into hard-hit Gaza. It was unclear how long the closure would remain in effect.

The incident came at a time when Gaza is facing a humanitarian crisis with shortages of food, medicine and other humanitarian items.

The attack threatened to complicate the ongoing cease-fire talks in Egypt. Egyptian and Hamas officials have said the deal under discussion calls for an extended pause in fighting in exchange for the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas. But the sides remain at odds over whether the deal would include an end to the war and a complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza.

Saturday’s cease-fire negotiations ended with no developments, a senior Hamas source close to the Cairo talks told CBS News. The source added that “tomorrow, a new round will begin.”

Israel did not send a delegation to the talks, saying it would only do so once Hamas replies to Israel’s latest proposal. An adviser to Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told CBS News on Saturday that “the end of the war will come with the end of Hamas in Gaza.”

That sentiment continued Sunday when Netanyahu accused Hamas of making unacceptable demands.

While claiming that Israel has shown a willingness to make concessions, he said: “Hamas has still held its extreme positions, first and foremost the withdrawal of our forces from the strip, the conclusion of the war and leaving Hamas intact.”

“Israel will not agree to Hamas’s demands, which would mean surrender; it will continue fighting until all of its objectives are achieved,” he said.

Israeli military vehicles are parked near the Israel-Gaza border
Israeli soldiers stand near military vehicles, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, near the Israel-Gaza border, in southern Israel, May 5, 2024.

Amir Cohen / REUTERS

In a statement released shortly after Netanyahu’s, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said the group is still keen on reaching a comprehensive cease-fire that ends the Israeli “aggression,” Reuters reported. Haniyeh also said the deal must guarantee Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, and achieve “a serious” deal to free Israelis being held hostage in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners.

At the same, Israel’s defense minister warned of “a powerful operation in the very near future in Rafah and other places across all of Gaza.”

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said, “we see signs that Hamas does not intend to go to any agreement.”

Rafah is the southernmost Gaza city on the border with Egypt where more than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents now seek shelter from Israeli attacks. Rafah is a key entry point for aid.

Israel launched its war in response to the Hamas cross-border attack on Oct. 7, which killed some 1,200 people and took 250 others hostage. An Israeli air and ground offensive has killed over 34,500 people, according to Palestinian health officials, displaced some 80% of Gaza’s population and led to a humanitarian disaster.

Egypt and Qatar have been working with the United States to mediate a cease-fire.

CIA director William Burns traveled to Cairo, Egypt, on Friday for the talks. A source with knowledge of the talks told CBS News on Sunday that Burns left Cairo to Doha, Qatar, to hold an emergency meeting with the Qatari prime minister in a bid to prevent the collapse of the mediation efforts. The same source confirmed that the Hamas delegation also left Cairo for Doha.

The latest cease-fire deal, set to last several weeks, proposed by mediators hinges on a swap for hostages. In the proposed deal, for every one hostage Hamas releases, Israel would have to release a larger number of Palestinians held in Israeli jails. 

On Sunday, Netanyahu’s Cabinet approved a measure to shutter Qatar’s Al Jazeera news channel, accusing it of broadcasting anti-Israel incitement. The decision threatened to further disrupt the cease-fire talks. There was no immediate comment from Qatar.

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