• Monday, December 22, 2014

Freedom in the air

Eid truce ignored

Fighting on as Gaza death toll crosses 1,060

Independent.co.uk
Protesters hold a banner reading
Protesters hold a banner reading "stop the war" during a gathering at the Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on July 26, 2014, to ask for the end of the Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip. Photo: AFP

A 24-hour ceasefire proposed by Hamas in Gaza to mark the Muslim holiday Eid appears to have broken down after Israel said the militants could not be trusted.

In a weekend where both sides offered each other truces only to see them rejected, yesterday evening saw a return to the rocket fire and missile bombardments that have seen more than 1,060 Palestinians and 45 Israelis killed in the conflict so far.

Hamas said its various factions had agreed to hold fire from 2pm (12pm BST) ahead of the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

But appearing in interviews across the US media, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that his army would not respect a Hamas-led truce when the group had breached their own just hours before.

 

“Israel is not obliged and is not going to let a terrorist organization decide when it's convenient to fire at our cities, at our people, and when it's not,” Mr Netanyahu said.

Hamas resumed its own rocket barrage this afternoon, criticising what it described as “the lack of commitment” from Israel towards a break in fighting for humanitarian reasons.

The Palestinian Red Cross said an Israeli airstrike carried out after Hamas called a truce damaged a vehicle carrying city workers on their way to repair water pipes, killing one Palestinian.

Also after Hamas called for a ceasefire, a rocket fired from Gaza lightly wounded one person in Israel, police said, while warning sirens wailed in a number of southern Israeli towns.

The resumption of fighting came after a 12-hour truce, on Saturday, negotiated by the US and UN in an intense period of diplomatic talks, was successfully observed by both sides.

Israel had then offered to extend the ceasefire a further 24 hours, but Hamas refused unless the army would withdraw its troops from Gaza entirely.

The military said it would not allow any truce to derail its highly popular campaign to destroy the network of secret tunnels zigzagging under the border with the Strip - which many in Israel now cite as more of an immediate concern than the rockets themselves.

Despite raised hopes towards the end of last week, there appeared to have been little progress from diplomats' international efforts to secure a more longstanding end to the conflict.

John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, flew back to Washington overnight after meeting in Paris with foreign ministers of France, Italy, Britain, Germany, Turkey and Qatar.

During the lull in fighting inside Gaza on Saturday, residents flooded into the streets to discover scenes of massive destruction in some areas, including Beit Hanoun in the north and Shujaiya in the east.

Israel hopes that the images of widespread desolation that have since emerged will persuade Gazans to put pressure on Hamas to stop the fighting for fear of yet more devastation.

Published: 12:01 am Monday, July 28, 2014

Last modified: 10:18 pm Monday, July 28, 2014

TAGS: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu missile Ramadan Palestinians Eid truce ignored Hamas in Gaza Muslim holiday rocket fire

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