Israel-Gaza Ceasefire Fails
A reported ceasefire in the week-long battle between Israel and Hamas fell apart Tuesday night, even as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveled to the region to hammer out a settlement.
The ceasefire was announced Tuesday afternoon by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, who claimed it would take effect that evening. Hamas, the democratically-elected government in Gaza, said they had agreed to the deal. Israel kept mum, although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted earlier in the day he would be agreeable to ending, or at least pausing, Operation Pillar of Defense.
That deal never came to be. As U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Israel to met with Netanyahu, Israeli air and sea attacks increased to a rate of one every 10 minutes, reports NBC News.
According to the UK Guardian, the ceasefire was broken down into three parts: a temporary lull, followed by a truce where grievances on both sides would be addressed.
The agreement began unraveling almost immediately, with internal pressures in both the Hamas and Israeli sides complicating a scenario where accusations of not adhering to the ceasefire proposals and being “out of the loop” meant nobody stop firing missiles.
Israel Radio quoted an Israeli official saying a truce was held up due to “a last-minute delay in the understandings between Hamas and Israel.”
A cabinet split in Israel saw Defense Minister Ehud Barak prepared to accept the original ceasefire offer while PM Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman were opposed.
“That split, some analysts have speculated, may have as much to do with Israel’s internal politics, with an election on the horizon, as the substance of any deal,” reports the UK Guardian.
The argument was even more complicated on the Palestinian side. Factions within Hamas who were happy to accept a ceasefire were pitted against hardliners who wanted an immediate lifting of the blockade and opening of the Rafah border crossing.
Missiles from Gaza lessened overnight, with only 30 launched since midnight. Ashkelon and Saar Hanegev were reportedly hit, but there no reports of damage or injuries.
The IDF website claimed to have struck more than 100 “terrorist sites” overnight, including Hamas’ Ministry of Internal Security, a police compound and a “military hideout” used by “senior operatives.” Another article from the IDF website claimed that more than 12,000 rockets had been fired by Hamas and “Gaza’s other terror groups” over the last 12 years, “deliberately target[ing] civilians.”
The situation turned for the worse on Wednesday, after a passenger bus in Tel Aviv exploded, injuring 10 people, three seriously. A spokesman for Netanyahu declared the explosion to be a “terrorist attack.”
The explosion marks the first time a serious bomb blast has hit Israel’s commercial capitol since April 2006, when a suicide bomber killed 11 people.
In the week since Operation Pillar of Defense was started, more than 130 Palestinians and five Israelis have been killed.