Israel, Palestine continue Gaza battle as Egypt-brokered ceasefire unravels

World Today

Smoke rises after an Israeli missile strike in Gaza City on Tuesday, July 15, 2014. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

An Egyptian truce proposal for the Israel-Palestine conflict in Gaza quickly unraveled Tuesday, after the Islamic militant group Hamas continued to fire rockets into Israel.

Leaders for Hamas say they never formally accepted the ceasefire plan.

Gaza militants fired scores of rockets at Israel and Israel responded with more than a dozen air strikes. This resumption of violence comes less than a day after Egypt presented its cease-fire plan.

A key difference to a previous truce in 2012 is that Hamas does not trust the current rulers of Egypt — who deposed a Hamas-friendly government in Cairo a year ago. Israel had agreed to the Egyptian plan, proposed late Monday. Under it, a 12-hour period of de-escalation was to begin mid-morning Tuesday. Once both sides agreed to halt hostilities, they would negotiate the terms of a longer-term truce.

Israel resumed air strikes in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, six hours after agreeing to the Egyptian-proposed truce that failed to halt Hamas rocket attacks. “Hamas has fired 47 rockets since we suspended our strikes in Gaza (this morning). As a result, we have resumed our operation against Hamas,” an Israeli military statement said.

Gaza man loses eight family members in Israeli air strike on their home

Gaza man loses eight relatives in Israeli airstrike

An Egyptian truce proposal for the Israel-Palestine conflict in Gaza quickly unraveled Tuesday, after the Islamic militant group Hamas continued to fire rockets into Israel.

Translated interviews (in order of appearance):

(00:49-00:54) Mohammad El Haj, whose sister and family were killed in the airstrike:
“Imagine the feeling when someone carries his sister and her sons and daughters, who are children, 18, 16 and 14 years old – I carried them when their bodies were ripped apart. It was horrifying.”

(00:55-01:19) Mohammad’s nephew Yasser El Haj:
“I saw everyone pouring into our house, I started screaming that my entire family is at the house, they’re all in the house, a few minutes and I would have been martyred with you. Everyone started holding me back. A bit later, I saw my uncle, carrying my mother and running, so I saw my mother as she was taken out. I started running after him but people ran after me and held me back and they did not let me see her.”

“After losing both my parents and my brothers and sisters, I am now all by myself. I have no one except a sister who is married and lives in Rafah, and that’s far away. Life is going to be difficult from here on out.”


“I cannot condemn strongly enough the actions of Hamas in so brazenly firing rockets, in multiple numbers, in the face of a goodwill effort (to secure) a ceasefire.” — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking in Vienna.

Under a blueprint brokered by Egypt, a mutual “de-escalation” of the week-old fighting was to have begun at 9 a.m. (0600 GMT), with hostilities ceasing within 12 hours. Hamas’ armed wing, the Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades, rejected the ceasefire, saying its battle with Israel would “increase in ferocity and intensity”.

But Moussa Abu Marzouk, a top Hamas official who was in Cairo, had said the movement — which is seeking a deal that would ease border restrictions imposed by both Egypt and Israel — had made no final decision on the proposal.

Live television showed Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepting several rockets over the port city of Ashdod, where a factory was hit. Emergency services said no one was hurt. Sirens also sounded in areas up to 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of the Gaza Strip. The Qassam Brigades claimed responsibility for some of the rocket attacks.

Gaza health officials said at least 184 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed in eight days of fighting — the worst Israel-Palestinian flare-up in two years. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose security cabinet voted 6-2 earlier on Tuesday to accept the truce, had cautioned that Israel would respond strongly if rockets continued to fly.

An Israeli official, speaking as the Israeli strikes resumed, said: “The prime minister and the defense minister have ordered the Israeli armed forces to take powerful action against terrorist targets in Gaza.”

Earlier, Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said that demands the movement has made must be met before it lays down its weapons. Other Palestinian militant groups — Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine — also said they had not yet agreed to the Egyptian offer.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who reached an agreement with Hamas in April that led to the formation of a unity government last month, urged acceptance of the proposal, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA said.

This report was compiled with information from Reuters and The Associated Press.