Is De Facto Truce Taking Shape in Gaza? Fighting Abates as Death Toll Tops 1,030


Former Staff
Jan 2010
[h=1]Is De Facto Truce Taking Shape in Gaza?[/h][h=3]Fighting Abates as Death Toll Tops 1,030[/h][h=4]By Nidal al-Mughrabi and Maayan Lubell[/h]Published July 27, 2014.

(Reuters) - Fighting subsided in Gaza on Sunday after Hamas Islamist militants said they backed a 24-hour humanitarian truce and U.S. President Barack Obama called for a ceasefire but there was no sign of any comprehensive deal to end fighting with Israel.

Hamas said it had endorsed a call by the United Nations for a pause in the fighting in light of the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which begins on Monday.

Some firing of rockets continued after the time that Hamas had announced it would put its guns aside and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu questioned the validity of the truce.

Obama spoke by phone on Sunday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and stressed the need for an immediate, unconditional humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, the White House said.

Urging a permanent end to hostilities on the basis of the 2012 ceasefire agreement, Obama added that “ultimately, any lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must ensure the disarmament of terrorist groups and the demilitarization of Gaza.”

Israeli artillery guns also fired barrages into the Gaza Strip, Israeli media reported, although the objects of the fire was initially unclear.

“Hamas doesn’t even accept its own ceasefire, it’s continuing to fire at us as we speak,” Netanyahu said in an interview with CNN, adding that Israel would “take whatever action is necessary to protect our people”.

Nonetheless, Gaza Strip residents and Reuters witnesses said Israeli shelling and Hamas missile launches had slowly subsided through the afternoon, suggesting a de facto truce might be taking shape as international efforts to broker a permanent ceasefire appeared to flounder.

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The army says its drive to find and eliminate tunnels would continue through any temporary truce.

A poll published by Israel’s Channel 10 television said some 87 percent of respondents wanted Israel to continue the operation until Hamas was toppled.

Diplomatic efforts led by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to end the conflict have shown little sign of progress. Israel and Hamas have set conditions that appear irreconcilable.

Hamas wants an end to the Israeli-Egyptian economic blockade of Gaza before agreeing to halt hostilities. Israel has signaled it could make concessions toward that end, but only if Gaza’s militant groups are stripped of their weapons.

“Hamas must be permanently stripped of its missiles and tunnels in a supervised manner,” Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said, “In return we will agree to a host of economic alleviations,” the security cabinet member said on Facebook.

Kerry flew back to Washington overnight after spending most of the week in Egypt trying to bridge the divide, putting forward some written proposals to Israel on Friday.

Speaking off the record, cabinet ministers described his plan as “a disaster”, saying it met all Hamas demands, such as lifting the Israeli-Egyptian blockade completely and ignored Israeli terms, such as stripping Hamas of its rockets.

There was no immediate comment from U.S. officials.

The obvious rancor added yet another difficult chapter to the already strained relations between Netanyahu and Kerry, whose energetic drive to broker a definitive peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians ended in acrimony in April.

(snip ... )

The Israeli military says its forces have uncovered more than 30 tunnels in Gaza, with some of the burrows reaching into Israeli territory and designed to launch surprise attacks on Jewish communities along the

The military said on Sunday it found a tunnel that led directly into the dining room of an Israeli kibbutz.

Other underground passages, the military says, serve as weapons caches and Hamas bunkers. One official said troops had found it easier to operate during the truce as the immediate threat to their safety was diminished.

The Gaza turmoil has stoked tensions amongst Palestinians in mainly Arab East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.

(snip ... )

The violence has sparked protests outside the region.

Demonstrators in London marched from the Israeli embassy to the Houses of Parliament and Whitehall, blocking traffic throughout the West End. French police clashed with pro-Palestinian protesters who defied a ban by authorities to march in central Paris.

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A de facto cease-fire is better than no cease-fire, but on the whole, not a very positive article. One of the attack tunnels from Gaza exited in a dining room in a kibbutz? How is that even possible? How would the kibbutz not know there was a tunnel exiting in its dining room?

Kerry and Bibi don't sound like they have a good working relationship. If Bibi can't get along with Kerry, who can he get along with, to act as a mediator? Hamas doesn't get along with anybody. Netanyahu doesn't get along with anybody.