Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Gaza crisis: Israel resumes rocket strikes on Gaza after truce bid fails - Palestinian death toll approaches 200

Smoke rises after Israeli missile strikes hit the northern Gaza Strip, Wednesday, July 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Smoke rises after Israeli missile strikes hit the northern Gaza Strip, Wednesday, July 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Adel Hana) - PEOPLE MAY FIND SOME OF THESE IMAGES DISTRESSING

Renewed fire from the Gaza Strip has claimed its first Israeli fatality in more than a week of fighting, police said, after both sides resumed firing following the failure of an Egyptian truce proposal.

An Israeli man in his 30s was delivering food to soldiers at the Erez Crossing with Gaza when he was struck by a mortar, police said.

Nearly 200 Palestinians have been killed in strikes in Gaza since Israel launched the campaign more than a week ago to stop rocket fire at its citizens.

Gaza militants have fired more than 1,100 rockets towards Israel in the fighting, but no Israelis were killed until today, largely thanks to the Iron Dome defence system.

Police said at least 15 Israelis, including several children, have been injured by the Palestinian rocket fire since the fighting began.

Islamic militant group Hamas rejected the Egyptian plan and Gaza militants launched scores of rockets at Israel, which after halting fire for hours finally responded with what Hamas security said were more than two dozen air strikes.

The speedy resumption of violence, less than a day after Egypt presented its ceasefire plan, illustrated that it will be harder than in the past to negotiate an end to Israel-Hamas fighting.

A key difference to a previous truce in 2012 is that Hamas does not trust the current rulers of Egypt who deposed a Hamas-friendly government in Cairo a year ago.

Palestinian health officials say 194 Palestinians have been killed and more than 1,400 wounded over the past week.

Hamas believes it has little to lose by continuing to fight while a truce on unfavourable terms could further weaken its grip on the Islamic group in the Gaza Strip, a territory it seized in 2007.

The Egyptian plan asked both sides to halt hostilities without preconditions and then to try to negotiate a new border regime easing the blockade of Gaza, with Cairo's mediation.

Hamas wants a significant easing of the blockade, enforced by Israel and Egypt by varying degrees since 2007.

Egypt tightened the closure over the past year by shutting down smuggling tunnels that were crucial for Gaza's economy, pushing Hamas into a severe financial crisis.

Israel agreed to the Egyptian plan and for about six hours complied with an Egyptian call for de-escalation. But after the continued rocket fire from Gaza, Israel resumed air strikes at its previous heavy pace.

After the renewed rocket fire from Gaza, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and defence minister Moshe Yaalon "directed the military to act with intensity against terror targets in Gaza", said an Israeli official.

Further reading

Gaza fire kills first Israel victim

Three held over Palestinian killing

Israel 'set for ground offensive'

 

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk