Israel-Gaza live updates: Netanyahu says Israel has ‘no other choice’ but to conduct Rafah operation

People walk in a camp for displaced people in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip by the border with Egypt on April 28, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. (AFP via Getty Images)

(NEW YORK) — As the Israel-Hamas war approaches the seven-month mark, renewed negotiations are underway to secure the release of hostages taken by the terrorist organization, as Israeli forces continue to prepare for an apparent invasion of the southern Gaza town of Rafah.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke in a phone call over the weekend, discussing increasing the delivery of humanitarian aid into Gaza and plans for a possible military operation in Rafah, according to the White House.

Here’s how the news is developing:

Apr 30, 12:57 PM
Jordanian king warns of ‘catastrophic effects’ of a Rafah operation

The Jordanian government released a readout of the meeting between King Abdullah II and Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday.

Abdullah “warned of the danger of any military operation in Rafah, stressing that the catastrophic effects of the war in Gaza could spread to areas in the West Bank, Jerusalem, and the entire region,” according to the readout.

The king also called for more aid to Gaza “through all available means,” the readout said.

“The King said supporting UNRWA is crucial to enable it to cover the basic needs of nearly 2 million Palestinians in Gaza, as well as other Palestinian refugees in its areas of operation,” the readout said.

The U.S. and some other countries pulled funding for UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, after Israel said several staffers took part in Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack.

-ABC News’ Cindy Smith

Apr 30, 12:43 PM
Israel will not send delegation to Cairo until Hamas responds to offer: Source

Israel will not send a delegation to Cairo for negotiations on a cease-fire deal until Hamas provides an answer to the proposal Israel has offered them, an Israeli source told ABC News.

-ABC News’ Jordana Miller

Apr 30, 12:40 PM
White House stays mum on Netanyahu’s remarks on Rafah plans

White House national security spokesman John Kirby declined to comment about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s latest comments about a possible operation into Rafah during a news conference Tuesday.

“Our position on Rafah is absolutely the same. We don’t want to see a major ground operation in Rafah. Certainly, we don’t want to see operations that haven’t factored in the safety and security of those 1.5 million folks trying to seek refuge down there,” Kirby said.

He also declined to say if Netanyahu has shared his plans to enter Rafah with or without a deal directly with the United States.

“They understand our concerns, and those concerns have not changed,” he said, adding that they have not seen a credible plan yet from Israel to take civilian safety into consideration though conversations continue.

Kirby reiterated that the new cease-fire deal is on the table, which would give a six-week pause in fighting and help get the hostages home.

Kirby downplayed expectations, but stressed “time is of the essence.”

“I wouldn’t say we’re overly confident. I would say we’re being very pragmatic about this,” he said.

-ABC News’ Molly Nagle

Apr 30, 11:25 AM
Netanyahu says Israel has ‘no other choice’ but to conduct Rafah operation

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said an operation in Rafah will proceed in comments Tuesday.

“We will enter Rafah because we have no other choice,” Netanyahu said in comments translated from Hebrew. “We will destroy the Hamas battalions there, we will complete all the objectives of the war, including the repatriation of all our hostages.”

No timeline has been given for a military operation in Rafah, where over 1 million refugees have gathered in the wake of Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

The prime minister also criticized the International Criminal Court, saying it “has no authority over the state of Israel.” The ICC is currently investigating Israel’s actions in Gaza, as well as the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel that launched the Israeli response.

“The possibility that it will issue arrest warrants for war crimes against IDF commanders and state leaders, this possibility is a scandal on a historical scale,” Netanyahu said.

He added, “I want to make one thing clear: no decision, neither in The Hague nor anywhere else, will harm our determination to achieve all the goals of the war.”

-ABC News’ Jordana Miller

Apr 29, 6:18 PM
Hamas delegation leaves Cairo, will return with response to Israeli proposal: Egyptian official

The Hamas delegation has left Cairo⁩ and will return again with a written response to Israel’s proposal for a truce and hostage-release deal, a senior Egyptian government official told ABC News.

Apr 29, 4:20 PM
White House won’t get info specifics on cease-fire deal

The White House was careful not to get into specifics on the “extraordinarily generous” cease-fire proposal Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to earlier this morning, refusing to give specifics as they continued to call on Hamas to accept the proposal.

“I’m not going to characterize the proposal. I’m not going to get into any of the specifics. What we believe is that now is the time for Hamas to take this deal. It is on the table. It is time to, it is way past time to get these hostages home. It is way past time to get to a ceasefire and we need to make sure we continue to get that humanitarian aid,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

Jean-Pierre noted that Israel “has a lot on their plate,” but expressed a desire for an in-person meeting to take place, in addition to the two virtual meetings the U.S. and Israel have had in recent weeks.

“We would like to have an in-person meeting. That is certainly what we would like to do, but in the meantime, we’ve had two important virtual meetings and in the readout, yesterday, we mentioned that the potential Rafah operations did come up between the two leaders in their conversation,” she said.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi also spoke to President Joe Biden Monday about ongoing Gaza talks and Egyptian efforts to reach a cease-fire and hostage deal in a phone call, the Egyptian presidency said in a statement.

The call discussed the risks of an Israeli incursion into Rafah, including the “catastrophic” impact on the worsening humanitarian crisis, and implications for the security and stability of the region, the statement added.

-ABC News’ Molly Nagle and Ayat Al-Tawy

Apr 29, 3:53 PM
Israel leaders concerned about possible ICC arrest warrants: Source

Israeli leaders are expressing concern over possible arrest warrants issued by the International Criminal Court against key officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, an Israeli official, who spoke under condition of anonymity, told ABC News.

It is believed that such potential warrants might be related to charges on the scope of humanitarian aid Israel allowed into Gaza, according to the official.

The ICC can charge individuals with war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide under its powers.

-ABC News’ Dana Savir

Apr 29, 12:20 PM
21 killed, 6 injured after strike in Gaza

At least 21 people were killed in Gaza after an Israeli airstrike Monday, the Al Kuwaiti Hospital in Rafah told ABC News. Six people were injured from the strike, the hospital added.

The updated death toll in Gaza is 34,488 killed and 77,643 injured, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health.

ABC News has reached out to the Israeli army for comment on the strike.

-ABC News’ Dia Ostaz

Apr 29, 8:36 AM
Blinken calls for cease-fire in first stop on Middle East trip

U.S. Secretary of Antony Blinken, who is currently in Saudi Arabia, notably called for a cease-fire as “the most effective way to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza” during a session with his counterparts of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

“The most effective way to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza to alleviate the suffering of children, women and men and to create space for a more just and durable solution is to get a cease-fire and hostages home, but also not waiting on a cease-fire to take the necessary steps to meet the needs of civilians of Gaza,” Blinken said.

“President Biden is insistent that Israel take specific concrete measurable steps to better address humanitarian suffering, civilian harm and the safety of aid workers in Gaza, including in his most recent call with Prime Minister Netanyahu,” he added, referring to a Sunday call with the Israeli leader.

Blinken said the U.S. was “focused on addressing the greatest threat to regional stability and regional security — Iran.”

Apr 28, 6:00 PM
United States Central Command and Royal Jordanian Air Force airdrop aid into Gaza

U.S. Central Command and the Royal Jordanian Air Force conducted a combined humanitarian assistance airdrop into Northern Gaza on Sunday.

The combined joint operation included Jordanian provided food and four U.S. Air Force C-130 aircraft.

The U.S. C-130’s dropped over 25,000 Meals Ready to Eat (MREs), providing life-saving humanitarian assistance in Northern Gaza. Additionally, more than 13,080 meal equivalents of Jordanian food supplies were also delivered.

To date the U.S. has dropped nearly 1,110 tons of humanitarian assistance.

Apr 28, 5:22 PM
American hostage’s niece opens up about ‘surreal’ new video

Hanna Siegel, niece of American hostage Keith Siegel, appeared on CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday morning and talked about the “surreal” feeling of seeing a recently released video purporting to show her uncle and talked about the possibility of a deal that would free him and other people thought to still be held by Hamas in Gaza.

“We’ve always believed that he was alive. We have to believe he’s alive — and his wife, my aunt, who was held for 52 days, [was] released in the deal that took place in November, she was with him,” Siegel said. “When she came out, she told us he was alive, but this is the first time that we’re seeing him, hearing him. It’s surreal.”

When asked about a potential hostage deal and temporary cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, Siegel said that she does think an agreement “can be reached” and pointed to an earlier deal that secured the release of her aunt and others during a brief pause in the war late last year.

Siegel also said that she believes the new release of purported hostage videos shows that Hamas is signaling they are ready to make a deal.

But she said that she is concerned that it might not be in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “political interest to close a deal,” though Netanyahu has said his goal is freeing the captives in Gaza as well as dismantling Hamas.

Siegel said that the Biden administration should “think about what they can do directly to bring our American citizens home.”

She also said she has felt the “commitment from the Biden administration to get him back,” referring to her uncle.

She became emotional talking about how her family missed her uncle during their Passover celebration and had a picture of him to pay tribute.

“I think there’s so much swirling in the political realm that it’s easy to forget that these are human beings. Keith is a grandfather, he’s a husband, he’s a brother, he’s an uncle,” she said.

She was asked whether her family is worried if a potential Israeli invasion of the Gaza city of Rafah, to further target Hamas fighters, could threaten her uncle’s safety. She responded that she and her family are “very concerned.”

Apr 28, 5:10 PM
Hamas to send a delegation to Cairo for hostage and cease-fire negotiations

Hamas will send a delegation to Cairo, Egypt, on Monday to participate in hostage and cease-fire deal negotiations, ABC News has confirmed.

Meanwhile, a senior Hamas official also told the Agence France-Presse on Sunday that the organization has no significant problems with the proposed deal.

“The atmosphere is positive unless there are new obstacles from the Israeli side,” the Hamas official said.

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