Israel resumes Gaza military campaign amid failed truce

Published 15.07.2014 16:22
Updated 16.07.2014 11:23

Hours after Israel accepted an Egyptian-backed ceasefire with Hamas containing conditions for a truce, Israeli air strikes resumed in the Gaza Strip resulting in the proposed truce failing to get off the ground

Israel held off its strikes for just six hours yesterday before resuming its attacks on the Gaza Strip, which has killed at least 192 Palestinians in the last eight days. Hamas rejected the ceasefire because they weren't consulted. Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu yesterday spoke to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas's political leader Khaled Mashaal about the crisis.

Israel resumed its airstrikes on the Gaza Strip yesterday afternoon six hours after it had halted operations on the condition of reaching ceasefire agreement with Hamas proposed by Egypt. Israeli airstrike targeted Gaza City and the southern Khan Yunis area, according to reports. Under the terms of the Egyptian proposal, the two sides would have been expected to attend series of meetings in Cairo within 48 hours. "I can confirm that we've started to attack," a military spokeswoman said in Tel Aviv.

As Israel's Gaza bombardment has restarted, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) condemned Israel's aggression "using rockets and air strikes against the Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

Meanwhile, the United Nations warned Israel not to target U.N. buildings in Gaza. "In 2008, some of the U.N. buildings in Gaza were targeted and some of the refugees in these buildings were injured, we reiterate the fact that Israelis need to respect that these are U.N. buildings and they have the GPS codes for these buildings," said the United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) spokesperson Sami Mshasha in a teleconference from Gaza to correspondents at the U.N. headquarters in Geneva, according to Anadolu news agency (AA).

Israel's security cabinet announced yesterday morning it unilaterally accepted an Egyptbrokered truce proposal after eight days of deadly violence in the Gaza Strip after Hamas appeared to reject the terms of the ceasefire agreement.

Following the seven-member security cabinet's vote in favor of the Egyptian cease-fire offer at Israeli military headquarters in Tel Aviv, Hamas debated the proposed Gaza truce, while stating the conditions of accepting the ceasefire agreement with Israel. Hamas requested Israel to "stop its offensive in Gaza and sabotaging the Palestinian unity government," and to "lift restrictions on the Gaza Strip, along with opening their border crossings."

Hamas leaders considered the proposed truce as an end to Israel's blockade of Gaza, instead of a temporary solution for the long-lasting conflict. "Because we were excluded from the consultations for this [truce] initiative, we are not obliged to abide by it," said Hamas according to a statement received by Agence France-Presse news agency in Gaza, while ruling out any end to the fighting without a fully-fledged agreement. "The problem is not the truce, but the siege and starvation of the Gaza Strip," Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said. "The problem is not going back to the agreement on calm because we want this aggression to stop," he added in a televised address to al-Aqsa television, according to Reuters. Hamas reportedly continued to launch rockets into Israel, rejecting the ceasefire proposal. Its armed wing declared the plan as "surrender."

The truce proposal, laid out by Cairo late on Monday, called for halting a week of heavy fighting between Israel and Hama in the Gaza Strip. The proposal called on both Israel and Gaza-based Palestinian factions to cease all hostilities against each other, halt rocket fire, cross-border attacks and to stop targeting civilians, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry stated. The truce proposal was announced after an emergency meeting of the Arab League on Monday night to discuss the crisis in Gaza.

Regarding Cairo's efforts to mediate a truce between Israel and Hamas, Bassem Naim, a senior Hamas official, said, "We consider Egypt's role as essential in any agreement and Egypt has a historic role," according to Daily News Egypt. In a brief statement released by the State Department, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged Hamas yesterday to accept Egypt's truce proposal: "The Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire and negotiations provides an opportunity to end the violence and restore calm." He added, "We welcome the Israeli cabinet's decision to accept it. We urge all other parties to accept the proposal."

In the case that Hamas rejected the proposed truce, Netanyahu said that Israel would intensify its military campaign in the Gaza Strip. "If Hamas doesn't accept the ceasefire proposal - and that's how it seems at this point in time - Israel will have all the international legitimacy to broaden its military activity [in Gaza] in order to achieve the necessary quiet," Netanyahu said at a joint news conference in Tel Aviv with visiting German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. "We responded positively to the Egyptian proposal to give a chance to deal with the demilitarization of Gaza from missiles, rockets and tunnels," he added.

Steinmeier arrived in Israel for meetings with Netanyahu in Tel Aviv and Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, in an effort to mediate a truce. Steinmeier also urged Hamas to accept the Egyptian- proposed ceasefire. As part of a diplomatic push for peace between Israel and Hamas, Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini also met with Abbas.

After the deal went into effect yesterday at 6:00 GMT, the Israeli army stated that they would suspend airstrikes on the Gaza Strip. Israel has accepted to "cease fire against Hamas, but remains prepared for further attacks from Gaza and any other potential developments," Israeli military spokesman Peter Lerner stated yesterday via social media.

Israel continued to attack Gaza overnight Monday ahead of the proposed truce, striking 25 targets on the eighth day of the military operation. On the eighth day of the military operation, the confirmed death toll on Palestinians hit 193, many of them civilians with 1,410 injured, according to a statement from the Gaza Health Ministry. More than 75 percent of the dead have been civilians and more than a quarter has been children, according to a U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees report.

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