Hamas Announces Cease-Fire as Security Cabinet Authorizes IDF To Take ‘Strong Action’ Against Terror [FULL RECAP]

4

Gaza’s Hamas rulers said late Thursday that a truce had been reached with Israel, possibly ending an intense two-day burst of violence that had pushed the region closer to war. But the deal did not appear to address the deeper issues that have prevented the bitter enemies from reaching a longer cease-fire arrangement.

Hamas’ Al Aqsa TV channel reported late Thursday that the Egyptian-brokered deal has taken hold “on the basis of mutual calm”, though the organization “reserves the right to respond to any violation.” It said the deal was mediated by Egypt and other unidentified regional players.

A senior Hamas official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said the agreement merely ended the latest round of violence, in which Gaza militants fired some 200 rockets at Israel and the Israeli military carried out a similar number of airstrikes in Gaza. He said Egypt, which often serves as a mediator between the sides, would continue the more difficult task of brokering a long-term cease-fire.

An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter with the media, denied a deal had been reached. But early Friday, the situation in Gaza appeared quiet.

[Justice Minister Shaked: Chances Of Real Peace Agreement With Hamas Are Slim]

The Hamas announcement came shortly after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Security Cabinet ordered the army to take unspecified “strong action” against Gaza terrorists as the military reinforced units along the border.

Ahead of the cabinet meeting, a political source said that Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman had instructed the IDF to “prepare for every possibility” and that “Israel will continue to act with force.”

Israeli officials in Jerusalem estimate that after the past 24 hours, Hamas has achieved the internal recognition it sought and was truly interested in bringing about a ceasefire. “Israel is not interested in a wide-ranging confrontation, but it seems that a harder blow is needed,” said an Israeli official. This has also been the opinion of numerous retired senior military commanders speaking to the media, stating that Hamas has to be brought to the point it requests a ceasefire, and despite the pounding from the aerial assaults, that point has not yet been reached since the surgical strikes were against empty structures and none of the leadership has been hit.

There are increasing voices in Israeli political circles calling for a harsher IDF response in light of the recent events – even within the coalition. Minister of Culture & Sports (Likud) Miri Regev called for renewed targeted assassinations against the Hamas leadership. Minister of Agriculture (Bayit Yehudi) Uri Ariel criticized the cabinet, which he said, “limits the army to very minor operations.”

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since the Islamic terror group seized control of Gaza in 2007. In this week’s fighting, the Palestinian Health Ministry said three Palestinians, including a pregnant woman and her 1-year-old daughter and a Hamas militant, were killed in separate airstrikes. Israeli officials said seven people were wounded by rocket or mortar fire on the Israeli side.

😡😡😡

A post shared by TheYeshivaWorld.com (@theyeshivaworld) on

At times, Thursday’s fighting resembled the 2014 war. In Israel, air raid sirens warning of incoming rocket fire wailed in southern Israel overnight and throughout the day, sending thousands of families scrambling into bomb shelters, canceling outdoor summer cultural events and forcing summer camps indoors. The Israeli air force, meanwhile, pounded targets across Gaza.

[CANCELLED: MBD Concert Cancelled Due To Rocket Fire]

A Palestinian rocket struck the southern city of Beersheva late in the afternoon, landing in an open area. It was the first time a rocket had hit the city since the 2014 war.

Shortly after, an Israeli airstrike flattened the five-story ‘cultural center’ in the Shati refugee camp, a crowded neighborhood of Gaza City. Israel says the building was used as a Hamas military headquarters. Hamas’ Interior Ministry, including its secret police, has offices in an adjacent site, but those offices were not hit. The airstrike set off a powerful explosion and sent a huge plume of black smoke into the air, causing crowds to scream in panic. Medical officials said at least seven bystanders were wounded.

“The deliberate targeting of a cultural center with airstrikes and destruction … is a barbaric act,” said Hazem Qassem, a Hamas spokesman. He said the destruction of the Egyptian cultural office was “an Israeli attempt to sabotage” the Egyptian cease-fire efforts.

Despite the animosity, the enemies have signaled, through their contacts with Egypt, that they want to avoid another war. Reaching a deal, however, will likely require major concession on both sides.

Hamas is demanding the lifting of an Israeli-Egyptian border blockade that has devastated Gaza’s economy, while Israel wants an end to rocket fire, as well as recent border protests and launches of incendiary balloons, and the return of the remains of two dead soldiers and two Israelis believed to be alive and held by Hamas.

[Former IDF Northern Commander: No Ceasefire with Hamas without Unconditional Return of Bodies]

Israel is believed to be offering an easing, but not an end, to the blockade.

Gaza’s Health Ministry identified those killed in the airstrikes as 23-year-old Enas Khamash and her daughter Bayan, as well as a Hamas fighter, Ali Ghandour.

Kamal Khamash, the woman’s brother-in-law, said the family was asleep when the projectile hit the house, and that her husband had been critically wounded. “This is a blatant crime and Israel is responsible for it,” he said.

In southern Israel, two Thai laborers were among the seven wounded, and rockets damaged buildings in the cities of Sderot and Ashkelon. Twenty-eight people were evacuated to the Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon, most of whom were released during the night after suffering minor injuries and anxiety attacks. Four pregnant women evacuated from Sderot remained hospitalized for observation.

At the United Nations, Israel’s ambassador, Danny Danon, urged the secretary-general and U.N. Security Council to condemn Hamas militants for what he called “the unprovoked terrorist attack” on southern Israel.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said U.S. officials were concerned by the situation in Gaza.

“Overall, we condemn the launching of missile attacks into Israel, and call for an end to the destructive violence. We’ve seen reports that 180 or so rocket attacks have taken place, shot from Gaza into Israel, and we fully support Israel’s right to defend itself, and to take actions to prevent provocations of that nature,” Nauert said.

Tension along the Israel-Gaza border has escalated since late March, when Hamas launched what have become regular mass protests along Israel’s perimeter fence with Gaza. The protests have been aimed in part at trying to break the blockade.

Israel and Hamas have engaged in several bouts of fighting over the past month. The latest round erupted Tuesday, when the Israeli military struck a Hamas military post in Gaza after it said militants fired on Israeli troops on the border. Hamas said two of its fighters were killed after taking part in a gunfire parade inside a militant camp.

Hamas officials said the group waited a day to retaliate until a group of senior leaders visiting from abroad had left the territory. The delegation was in Gaza to discuss the cease-fire efforts with local leaders.

Over the past four months, 163 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire, including at least 120 protesters, according to the Gaza Health Ministry and a local rights group. An Israeli soldier was killed by a Gaza sniper during this period.

Israel says it has been defending its sovereign border against infiltration attempts by Hamas. But it has come under heavy international criticism for its frequent use of force against unarmed protesters.

(AP / YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)




4 COMMENTS

  1. ceasefire MEANING TEMPORARY stop in fighting so Hamas can gear up for more intensive attacks!

    Why do Israelis tend to be stupid??

    Hit them where it hurts: Bomb buildings with people in it and stop giving our enemies water, food, gas, electricity! They only use it to kill us!

  2. The autocratic hamas pals are smarter than the democratic Israelis. Instead of convening meetings of the security cabinet, etc. etc. the pals just bomb away and when they need to take a break to rearm they call a unilateral truce. The Israelis on the other hand obsess with meetings and authorizations etc. etc. and then miss the boat. Now anything done by Israel will be a breach of the cease fire.