Secretary of State John Kerry’s proposals for a cease-fire that would halt the fighting in the Gaza Strip have been resisted by the Islamic militant group Hamas, who insist that any truce agreement must meet the group’s main demand that a joint Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the territory be lifted.
“When it comes to the balance of power in this crisis between us and Israel, they are the executioners, the aggressors, the occupiers, the settlers, and we are the true owners of the land,” Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said Wednesday in a televised speech from his home-in-exile in Doha, Qatar. “We will not accept anything but the end of the siege.”
It has been grossly under-reported that Hamas was in dire financial straits prior to the outbreak of fighting, because a tight crack down of the blockade by Egypt had stopped cash and weapons from coming into the strip through hundreds of smuggling tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border. Israel imposed the blockade in 2006 after Hamas and other militants abducted an Israeli soldier. Egypt tightened its own restrictions last year after the overthrow of the oppressive Muslim Brotherhood government in Cairo, which was aided by Hamas, and has destroyed many of the cross-border smuggling tunnels were used by Hamas to bring in weapons.
Hamas rejected the first Egyptian cease-fire proposal, demanding the joint Israeli-Egyptian blockade be eased so they can have access to the Al-Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Also, Hamas demands that Israel will release the Palestinian Schalit prisoners.
The six prisoners were initially freed by Israel as part of an exchange for a captured IDF soldier, but later re-arrested in the West Bank after the group recommenced terrorist activities. Israeli officials said earlier in the conflict the issue of re-releasing the prisoners was “not up for discussion,” because they are simply too much of a danger to their national security.
Israeli tanks and warplanes continued to their offensive on the Gaza Strip on Thursday. Israeli officials said three of their soldiers had died Wednesday, bringing the military’s death toll to 32 since ground operations in Gaza began on July 17 with the aim of halting rocket fire from Gaza.
However, upon entering Gaza, Israeli officials discovered a network of “complex and advanced” underground, cross-border “terror tunnels.” Following several attacks last weekend, including Hamas terrorists wearing Israeli army uniforms infiltrating central Gaza through a terror tunnel last Saturday, which resulted in two Israeli soldiers being killed, Israel has expanded its operation. At the start of the conflict the state mission was to put an end to the rocket fire, but the mission now includes the destruction of the underground terror tunnels that have the Israeli population seriously concerned.
More than 2,000 rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza since July 8, and the Israeli military says it has uncovered more than 30 tunnels leading from Gaza to Israel, some of which have been used by Hamas to carry out attacks.
The 16-day conflict has claimed the lives of 736 Palestinians, though it is unclear how many of them were civilians. Two Israeli civilians and a Thai worker in Israel have also been killed in the conflict. Since the latest round of violence began, Israel has contended Hamas is pursuing a strategy that intentionally puts Palestinian civilians at risk, hoping for a high civilian body count to help win a public relations war, because they know they cannot win the actual war.
People’s Pundit Daily did confirm July 12 that the Gaza Interior Minister told residents to ignore Israel’s warnings and to stay in their homes after the Israeli air force dropped leaflets in Gaza warning residents to evacuate their homes. He said the announcement was just Israeli “psychological warfare” and that Israel was simply hoping to create confusion.
In a recently released video on PPD, Gaza youth confirms Hamas is in fact preventing people from evacuating their homes to a safer place, which would more than suggest Israeli officials are on the receiving end of unjustified condemnation from the international community and misguided western media outlets.
Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that diplomats from the U.S., Israel, and other Middle Eastern countries are reworking a cease-fire proposal made by Egypt’s foreign ministry last week. The paper reports that the new proposal will call for both Israel and Hamas to cease military operations in the coming days before calling on the U.S. and the international community to begin talks on a long-term economic program for Gaza.
However, Hamas’ demands to open up the movement of “goods” into Gaza, such as the rockets that found there way into two UN schools this week, are most assuredly going to be met with opposition from Israel unless it is allowed to monitor the trade of weapons.
The U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said the rockets were found in between two other UNRWA schools that are being used to host 1,500 displaced people. The discovery added validity to the claim that Hamas is intentionally hiding and launching weapons in and from areas populated with civilians.
The UN secretary-general said today in a statement that he is “alarmed” to learn that rockets are missing.
“This statement tells you all you need to know about how corrupt and corrupted the UN is in the conflict between Israel and the Arabs,” Charles Krauthammer said on a “Special Report” panel Wednesday night.
“How do you smuggle 20 missiles into a classroom? Can you imagine a principal in the U.S. saying, ‘Well I really am not sure how they got there? What did the Hamas do? Put them in a golf bag? Walk them in and say he’s preparing for the Gaza Open?” Krauthammer continued.