Tags: Gaza | Israel | Hamas | cease-fire

Deadly Gaza Raids Follow Mortar Fire That Kills Israeli Child

Image: Deadly Gaza Raids Follow Mortar Fire That Kills Israeli Child
Palestinian firefighters try to extinguish a fire inside a house that was hit by an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on Saturday. (Getty Images)

Saturday, 23 Aug 2014 07:56 AM

The Israeli military warned Gaza Strip residents that it planned to strike targets across the Hamas-ruled territory and hunt down the movement’s leaders after a mortar attack killed a 4-year-old Israeli boy.

In leaflets, text messages and audio recordings, the military urged Gaza’s 1.8 million people to stay away from “every site in which terrorist organizations are operating,” it said in an e-mailed statement. Israel’s campaign “has not been concluded,” it said, as militants continued to pelt Israel with rockets and mortars.

Seven Palestinians were killed in Israeli strikes by mid-afternoon, bringing the number killed since July 8 to about 2,100, according to Health Ministry official Ashraf al-Qedra. Militants continued to pelt Israel with dozens of rockets and mortars.

A succession of Egyptian-brokered truces have unraveled amid rocket fire and retaliatory Israeli strikes. In televised comments after the boy became the 68th casualty on the Israeli side, military spokesman Brigadier-General Moti Almoz said his country was preparing for a possible renewal of its ground offensive, which ended Aug. 5 under one of the truces. Israeli ministers authorized the call-up of 10,000 reserve troops on Aug. 21.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called today for an end to the bloodshed after meeting in Cairo with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, and said an Egypt-led proposal to end the fighting was the only viable option.

Rising Stakes

Stakes rose earlier this week when Israeli air strikes killed three senior Hamas military leaders and apparently targeted the group’s top military commander, Mohammed Deif, killing his wife, a son and a daughter. Deif survived, Hamas has said.

According to Egypt’s Al-Shorouk newspaper, Egyptian mediators have proposed an immediate cessation of hostilities, to be followed by talks on resolving long-festering issues including Israel’s blockade of Gaza, initiated in 2006 on security grounds after Hamas won Palestinian elections. Israel has demanded assurances it won’t come under attack.

“What’s important now is to stop the bloodshed in the Gaza Strip,” Abbas said at a news conference after meeting with El- Sisi. “After that we will discuss our demands.” He said he told Hamas’s top leader, Khaled Mashaal, in their meeting yesterday in Qatar that “there is no other initiative but the Egyptian initiative.”

Mediation Complicated

Egypt’s historical role as a mediator of Israeli-Gaza conflicts has been complicated this time by its antipathy toward Hamas. The Egyptian government earlier this year banned Hamas’s activities as part of a broader crackdown on Islamist movements following El-Sisi’s ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi last year.

In an interview with Yahoo News yesterday, Mashaal acknowledged that group members killed three Israeli teenagers whose abduction in the West Bank in June was a prelude to the current violence.

Israel’s roundup of hundreds of Hamas militants in connection with the kidnapping set off weeks of rocket fire and air raids. Fighting escalated after a Palestinian youth was killed in Jerusalem last month in suspected retribution for the Israeli teenagers’ death, and Israel embarked on its Gaza offensive days later. About 3,900 rockets have been fired at Israel in the past seven weeks, and Israel has carried out 5,000 strikes on Gaza, the military said.

Cease-Fire Resolution

The Associated Press reported this week that the U.S. and European nations were working on a United Nations Security Council cease-fire resolution.

The UN Human Rights Council has cited the Palestinian civilian death toll in opening an investigation into possible war crimes during the conflict. Senior Hamas official Mussa Abu Marzuk wrote on his Facebook page that the group would back Abbas should he petition to join the International Criminal Court -- a move that could pave the way to war-crimes charges against both Israel and the militant group itself.

Hamas has authorized Abbas “to sign the Rome Statute that prepares the state of Palestine to join the International Criminal Court,” he wrote.

Palestinian leaders have debated for years whether to seek to join the court to strike back against Israel’s military activity and its occupation of lands they claim for a future state. Doing so would open the Palestinians themselves to war- crime charges over the rocket fire and cause new tensions with Israel and the U.S., which oppose such a move. Abbas has said he wouldn’t take such action without the approval of all Palestinian factions, and in Cairo today he said consultations on the matter continue.

Israel, which like the U.S. and European Union considers Hamas a terrorist organization, says the group deliberately puts civilians in harm’s way by operating within residential areas and using them as human shields.

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MiddleEast
The Israeli military warned Gaza Strip residents that it planned to strike targets across the Hamas-ruled territory and hunt down the movement’s leaders after a mortar attack killed a 4-year-old Israeli boy.
Gaza, Israel, Hamas, cease-fire
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2014-56-23
Saturday, 23 Aug 2014 07:56 AM
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