Israel Claims New "Legitimacy" as Attack on Gaza Resumes
As predicted, what was seen as a "cease-fire ploy" by many results in new justifications for vicious assault on civilian population
UPDATE (8:47 AM EST):
Fulfilling fears and suspicions that an Egyptian-proposed "cease-fire" agreement put forth late on Monday would not last and may have simply been a pretext for Israel to bolster a narrative that it was Hamas and other militant factions that refused a settlement, the Israel military—after a brief respite—resumed its aerial bombing of the Gaza Strip on Tuesday with a massive show of firepower.
As the Guardian's live blog reports:
Gaza resident Jehad Saftani, from the Institute for Middle East Understanding, reports seeing buildings shake after hearing two or three air strikes.
Speaking on the telephone from Gaza City he said: "All the news about the ceasefire is just in the media. On the ground there isn't anything about a ceasefire. Until now they [the Israelis] completely attack."
At press conference earlier on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "If Hamas rejects the ceasefire, we will have international legitimacy to restore the needed quiet.”
Subsequently, and showing the Israel's desired narrative was at least represented at the New York Times, the newspaper's updated headline read: "Israel Resumes Attack After Militants Spurn Cease-Fire Plan."
As Sara Hussein, Middle East correspondent for Agence France-Presse, tweeted:
And Palestinian author and columnist Ramzy Baroud tweeted just after the new round of airstikes began:
'Ceasefire’ ploy by Egypt and Israel achieved its goal; Israel bombarding Gaza now. Death toll to increase. Resistance unabated. #Gaza— Ramzy Baroud (@RamzyBaroud) July 15, 2014
EARLIER (7:15 AM EST):
Neither Hamas nor the representatives of Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip have signed off on a Egyptian-proposed cease-fire agreement with Israel, representatives from both groups said on Tuesday, because they were not party to the talks and have not been officially informed of the details.
Overnight, at least 25 new Israeli airstrikes were reported on Gaza, resulting in five additional Palestinian fatalities. In the last week, according to recent updates, Israel's bombing campaign has killed more than 190 people—eighty percent of them civilians—including at least 34 children.
Many news outlets across the world are reporting that Israel has now accepted the deal brokered in Cairo and that Hamas has refused it. However, according to reporting from Ma'an news agency inside Gaza and other outlets on Tuesday, the brokered settlement excluded input from those living under the occupation and facing a militarty onslaught that has claimed nearly 200 lives in eight days of bombing and shelling.
According to the Guardian:
Hamas's spokesmen in Gaza said the Islamist group had not received an official ceasefire proposal, and its demands must be met before it lays down its weapons. Hamas has specifically called for the lifting of Israel's eight-year blockade on the Gaza Strip, the opening of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt and the release of Palestinian prisoners Israel rearrested after freeing them in exchange for kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2011.
Hamas's suspicions are likely to have been exacerbated by [former British Prime Minister Tony] Blair's apparent involvement in mediating between the Egyptian president, Abdul Fatah al-Sisi, and Netanyahu. According to diplomatic sources, Blair has been a key interlocutor in recent days.
But the Middle East envoy has little credibility among most Palestinians as he is seen as a staunch defender of Israel's interest and an enthusiast for the Cairo regime and its crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, the ideological parent of Hamas. Since Sisi came to power a year ago, the Brotherhood has been outlawed and attitudes towards Gaza, and Hamas in particular, have hardened.
And Ma'an reports:
Hamas and Islamic Jihad said Tuesday that they were not consulted over the terms of a truce deal with Israel, with the al-Qassam Brigades branding the proposal as "surrender."
"To avoid confusion and to be clear with our people, al-Qassam Brigades confirm that we haven't been contacted by any official or unofficial entities about terms of this alleged initiative."
"If what has been circulated is true, this initiative means kneeling and submissiveness and so we completely refuse it and to us, it's not worth the ink used in writing it," a statement added.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Hamas was not officially informed by any party.
"We are a people under occupation and resistance is a legitimate right for occupied peoples," he said.
Egyptian sources said Monday that the initiative was based on consultations with Israel, the Palestinian Authority and all Palestinian factions.
Senior Islamic Jihad official Khalid al-Batsh welcomed Egypt's role, but said that there was only contact between Egypt and Israel.
"Initiatives shouldn't be proposed through media outlets, but rather through the obvious channels, which are resistance factions and their leaders."
Deputy secretary-general of the group, Ziad al-Nakhalah, said late Monday that there couldn't be a ceasefire agreement without guarantees to end Israeli aggression and the blockade on Gaza.
"We are open to any initiative, but rocket fire won't stop unless a real and appropriate agreement is reached," he added.
Quoting Israel's former U.S. Ambassador Michael Oren as an "analyst," the New York Times reported Tuesday that observers like him see "little downside for Israel in accepting the Egyptian outline" because they calculate that "if Hamas rejects the terms" of the deal, it will provide "Israel with more international legitimacy to continue the conflict."
As Oren stated on a phone call with journalists, “Now that Israel has accepted the cease-fire and has offered to go into further negotiations, if Hamas reopens fire, Israel’s justification for responding in a very robust way is greatly reinforced.”