PLO reports new Gaza truce, Hamas denies and shoots rockets. Israel is silent, retaliates with air strikes
Total confusion reigned Thursday morning, Aug. 14, stirred up by a night of contradictory words and actions around the mirage of yet another truce in the Gaza war. The only immutable fact was Hamas rocket fire starting two hours before the last 72-hour ceasefire was scheduled to end Wednesday midnight and continuing up until 2 a.m. Thursday – namely before and after PLO-Ramallah envoys in Cairo and Egyptian officials reported a new five-day ceasefire had been agreed. Hamas-Gaza denied any such deal until all its conditions met. No Israeli official was available to confirm or deny the PLO-Egyptian claims. However, the Israeli air force retaliated for the Palestinian rocket fire with air strikes over the Gaza Strip.
Early Thursday, the unofficial word from Jerusalem was that the indirect talks in Cairo, which according to Hamas had broken down, will “apparently” be resumed Sunday.
Egypt, Hamas, the PLO and Israel appear to be totally at loggerheads. This impasse has produced a volatile and unpredictable situation that is closer to a lingering war of attrition between Hamas and Israel than a negotiated accommodation. Towards dawn Thursday, Ashkelon, Kiryat Gath, Netivot, and the Lachish, Eshkol and Shear Hanegev Districts again heard the explosions of Hamas rockets and Israeli air strikes over Khan Younes and central Gaza.
Members of the Israeli cabinet say that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon don’t keep them in the picture. Its hazy outline indicates that the two war leaders still hope to maneuver Hamas into accepting a prolonged ceasefire. Because that is the last thing that the Palestinian Islamists seek, they will keep on shooting.
debkafile reported Wednesday night:
Two hours before the Gaza truce was due to end Wednesday midnight, Palestinian rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip at large parts of southern Israel, including Ashkelon, Kiryat Gath, Yoav District, Shear Hanegev. Two were intercepted. No casualties were reported. Hamas envoys said that the Cairo talks had broken down and the truce would not be renewed unless their conditions were met. They called off a scheduled news conference without explanation. Hamas went back to launching rockets after Israel nodded its acceptance of a further truce, while at the same time concentrating armored forces on the Gaza border in case the Palestinians against fired rockets. Wednesday afternoon, IDF reservists were called up, as columns of tanks, tank carriers and APCs thundered down the roads leading to the Gaza border.
debkafile reported Tuesday: The seventh truce in the ongoing Israel-Hamas passage of arms is generally expected to end Wednesday night Aug. 13, in a fresh outbreak of hostilities triggered by resumed Hamas rocket fire. The general media trend predicted a further ceasefire.
Our sources also reported that the indirect Egyptian-brokered talks between the parties in Cairo never got off the ground. From the start, all three realized that the gaps between Israel and the Palestinians were unbridgeable and, moreover, that Hamas and the Palestinian Authority were totally at odds on a common negotiating stance.
debkafile’s intelligence sources learned that Egyptian intelligence mediators presented separate papers to the Israelis and Palestinians, knowing – as they acknowledged behind the scenes – that the two papers were miles apart but they were not overly concerned about the lack of headway.
Our military sources say that Israel’s government and military leaders were braced for the next stage of the confrontation with Hamas, which will be a lot tougher, deeper and broader than a few restrained air strikes.