Israel Resumes Gaza Offensive As Hamas Offers New Cease-Fire

Jul 27, 2014
Originally published on July 28, 2014 12:22 am

Update at 10:05 p.m. ET:

The U.N. Security Council has agreed on a statement calling for "an immediate and unconditional humanitarian cease-fire" in Gaza, reports the Associated Press.

A meeting is scheduled at midnight to adopt it. The AP has more:

The presidential statement, obtained by The Associated Press, says the humanitarian cease-fire would allow for the delivery of urgently needed assistance. It urges Israel and Hamas "to accept and fully implement the humanitarian cease-fire into the Eid period and beyond."

The statement also calls on the parties "to engage in efforts to achieve a durable and fully respected cease-fire, based on the Egyptian initiative."

Rwanda, the current council president, announced agreement Sunday night on the presidential statement and the immediate meeting. It was drafted by Jordan, the Arab representative on the U.N.'s most powerful body.

Our original post continues:

Israel has resumed military operations in the Gaza Strip after offers, counteroffers and accusations surrounding the establishment of a new 24-hour humanitarian truce seemed to go nowhere.

After a 12-hour cease-fire that ended on Saturday, there had been talk of extending the truce, but at first, Hamas reportedly rejected the offer. But by Sunday afternoon, Israel time, the Islamist group had reportedly agreed to a 24-hour cease-fire to coincide with the beginning of Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday that ends the holy month of Ramadan.

But Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking on CNN Sunday, accused Hamas of breaking its own cease-fire.

"It's continuing to fire at us as we speak," Netanyahu said, adding that Israel "will take what ever action is necessary to protect our people."

Daniel Estrin, reporting from Jerusalem for NPR, says "Initially, Israel was adhering to a 24-hour ceasefire of its own, but called it off after Hamas fired rockets."

On CBS' Face the Nation, the Israeli premier also accused the Palestinians of using civilians as "human shields" and that despite growing concern over the dead in the 19-day offensive, said Israel would not flinch from the operation.

Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Kidra says the total number of Palestinian dead stands at 1,032, including 236 children, with 6,233 wounded. Israel says 45 of its citizens, mostly soldiers, have been killed in the fighting as well as a guest worker from Thailand.

Natanyahu told CBS that Israel is not targeting civilians but that Hamas wants a high civilian body count as a propaganda tool for international media.

The White House issued a readout of conversation between President Obama and Netanyahu on Sunday, saying the president "underscored the United States' strong condemnation of Hamas' rocket and tunnel attacks against Israel and reaffirmed Israel's right to defend itself ... [and] also reiterated the United States' serious and growing concern about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives, as well as the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza."

The initial 12-hour cease-fire had begun on Saturday morning, giving Gaza residents the chance to stock up on supplies after a nearly three-week Israeli offensive against Hamas militants. Israel then offered a four-hour extension, which Hamas rejected.

Hamas resumed attacks shortly after the initial cease-fire expired at 1 p.m. ET Saturday (8 p.m. Israeli time), firing rockets and mortars at several communities in southern Israel, as NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reported from Jerusalem.

Then late Saturday night, Israel's security Cabinet voted to extend the cease-fire for an additional 24 hours, until midnight Israeli time on Sunday. But as NPR's Emily Harris reported from Gaza, Hamas did not accept the terms of the truce.

"An Israeli government official said troops will remain in Gaza during an extended cease-fire and will keep destroying tunnels, weapons and other infrastructure used by militant groups," Harris reported for our Newscast unit. "Hamas' spokesman said in a statement it will not accept any cease-fire that doesn't include Israeli troops withdrawing from Gaza."

Israel, meanwhile, will only accept a cease-fire that allows soldiers to remain in Gaza and destroy dozens of tunnels the IDF has located, reports The Associated Press.

The IDF says that after midnight Saturday, during the proposed truce extension, about a dozen rockets were fired toward Israel; the rockets caused no casualties or damage, according to the AP.

In addition to the rocket fire, Israel's military says one of their soldiers was killed by a mortar during the cease-fire, Reuters reports. In total, IDF reports 43 Israeli soldiers killed in the conflict and three civilians.

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