Monday, August 4, 2014

Israel/Gaza: Update--At the Heart of a Lasting Cease-Fire is Hamas, Islamists Renouncing Destruction of Israel

According to Reuters, a brief Israeli truce to allow aid to reach Palestinians ended on Monday (August 4) amid accusations of strikes by both sides, while Jerusalem was rocked by two attacks that appeared to be a backlash against the war in Gaza.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said there had been no strikes since 1000 hours when the seven-hour truce started. She said four rockets had been fired from Gaza later and two had crashed inside Israel. There were no reports of casualties or damage.

In Jerusalem, a Palestinian driving an excavator ran over and killed an Israeli and then overturned a bus, in what police described as a terrorist attack. Police shot the excavator driver dead; there were no passengers on the bus.

Several hours later, a gunman shot and wounded a soldier near Jerusalem's Hebrew University before fleeing on a motorcycle, police said.

Israel had announced its ceasefire to free up humanitarian aid and allow some of the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians displaced by almost four weeks of war to go home.

The military is wrapping up the main objective of the ground assault, the destruction of cross-border infiltration tunnels from Gaza, and it has told residents of some towns they can return home.

COMMENT: First and foremost, it seems to be essential that an integral component of any cease-fire should and must include both Hamas and the Palestinian Islamists renouncing its central theme of destroying Israel as a function state in the Middle East.
Without such a renouncement, it is fruitless to entertain a cease-fire until one side or the other formally surrenders.

That is what is at the foundation of all conflicts and hostilities.

If Hamas, the Palestinians and the Islamists are intent on destroying Israel, why even entertain a cease-fire if a continuing war remains underway?

A spokesman for PM Benjamin Netanyahu said, however, Israeli forces would be on both sides of the border once the tunnels operation ended.
"What is about to end is the Israeli military's handling of the tunnels, but the operation will end only when a prolonged period of quiet and security is restored to Israel's citizens."

Gaza officials say 1,831 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed and more than a quarter of the impoverished enclave's 1.8 million residents displaced. As many as 3,000 Palestinian homes have been destroyed or damaged.

Israel has lost 64 soldiers in combat and three civilians to Palestinian cross-border rocket and mortar fire that has emptied many of its southern villages.

Palestinian groups, including representatives from Hamas and Islamic Jihad, held their first formal meeting in Cairo on Monday (August 4) with Egyptian mediators hoping to pave the way towards a durable cease-fire agreement with Israel.

Egyptian mediation, supported by the United States and the United Nations and also involving Qatar, Turkey and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, has been complicated by the dramatically divergent terms set by Israel and Hamas.

Israel, which is not attending the talks after accusing Hamas of failing to abide by previous cease-fires, has said Gaza must be stripped of tunnels and rocket stocks.

In Cairo on Sunday (August 3), Palestinian delegates said they also wanted Israel to withdraw from Gaza, facilitate reconstruction of the battered territory and release all Palestinian prisoners.

Egyptian diplomats said that while Cairo might contemplate easing the limited freedom of movement across its own border with Gaza, it was unlikely to accept Palestinian calls to allow a normal flow of trade.

Mark Regev, spokesman for PM Netanyahu, told CNN that Israel's goal with the truce was "to assist with the humanitarian relief" of the people of Gaza.
Italy said it was sending 30 tons of supplies including tents, emergency generators and water purification kits to ease living conditions in Gaza.

Media in Britain reported that a British aid worker was killed on Sunday during an Israeli strike in Rafah while he was delivering supplies to a hospital.