Hours before the 72-hour ceasefire was due to expire Friday morning, Aug. 8, the Palestinian Hamas’ military wing slapped down an ultimatum before Israel: Either allow the Gaza Strip to have an open seaport – which would be tantamount to lifting the Gaza blockade – or prepare for a long and brutal war of attrition with thousands of fatalities.
Hamas’ decision about extending the ceasefire was tensely awaited Thursday night after Israel’s acceptance. Instead, the Palestinian Islamists declared that the war would go on unless Israel bowed to their dictates.
Israel’s envoys had previously rejected their demand for a deep sea Gaza port in the talks taking place in Cairo under Egyptian auspices.
Abu Obeida, spokesman of Hamas’ military wing, Ezz e-Din Al-Qassam, also announced that his movement had acquired new rockets with larger warheads than the more than 3,000 fired against the Israeli population in the month-long conflict, and they would be aimed at Israel’s Ben Gurion international airport. Israel would be severed from its air transport ties with the outside world, he said.
“We demand our fundamental rights,” said the Hamas spokesman, in a statement that was broadcast live Thursday night. “We call on our envoys to the Cairo talks not to continue negotiations until Israel surrenders to our demand for a seaport. The war is not over until the siege of Gaza ends.”