Unilateral Gaza ceasefire collapses. Israeli air strikes resume after dozens of Palestinian rockets in hours
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon ordered the Israeli Air Force to resume strikes over Gaza Tuesday afternoon, six hours after a ceasefire proposed by Egypt, accepted by Israel and rejected by Hamas, was due to go into effect. During those hours, dozens of Hamas rockets raked town after town and village after village. debkafile: The White House called off US Secretary of State John Kerry’s Cairo visit upon finding Tehran’s hand behind the rockets. Netanyahu goes on the air at 8 p.m. to explain what went wrong.
Straight after the ceasefire was due to go into effect Tuesday at 9 a.m., Hamas fired 20 rockets from the Gaza Strip.The Israeli security cabinet had meanwhile endorsed Cairo’s proposal to mediate the conflict with the Palestinian extremists, but warned that if they continued to fire rockets, Israel would hit back with “all possible force.”
In Cairo, Hamas official Mussa Abu Marzuk took responsibility for eight of the post-“truce” rockets, most of which landed on Ashdod, slightly injuring one woman. Iron Dome intercepted four.
The first rockets hit Eshkol before 9.30, soon to be followed by a steady stream at Sderot, Ashkelon, Kiryat Malachi, Shear Hanegev, Gan Yavneh and Eshkol. As the Hamas official spoke, a rocket hit Netivot and Israel TV reporters at Shear Hanegev interrupted their broadcast and scurried to safety in a shelter.
At 12:30 p.m. Rehovot, Ness Ziona and Kibbutz Givat Brenner were targeted, then sirens blared on Mt. Carmel, in Haifa, Zichron Yaakov and Ain Hashofet and at 13.05 p.m. in the inland towns.
And the day was still young.
debkafile: It was obvious from the first that the Egyptian bid to enforce a comprehensive truce before summoning the parties to Cairo to discuss a substantial deal – on the lines published Monday night in Cairo – had no legs. It was artificially cobbled together by Israel and Egypt with no reference to the initial aggressor, Hamas and its pro-Iranian ally Jihad Islami. Had they been consulted, some sort of dialogue might have developed and led to a bilateral ceasefire, however fragile.
But this did not happen and the rosy bubble filled with nothing but hot air was bound to burst.
Early Tuesday, US Secretary of State John Kerry was already heading to Cairo to take the lead in the Egyptian initiative when he was ordered by Washington to turn around and make tracks for home.
President Barack Obama had no wish to stand in line with Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu behind their highly speculative initiative.
According to our sources in Washington, the real reason the White House pulled Kerry out of another certain fiasco in the nick of time was incoming intelligence that Tehran had ordered its Palestinian pawn Jihad Islami to ignore the ceasefire and keep on shooting from Gaza. This left Hamas no option but to follow suit.
The Obama administration was also advised of that hand behind the trickle of rockets fired this week from Lebanon and Syria at Western Galilee and the Golan. It was the radical Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestinian, PFLP-General Command, whose chief Ahmed Jibril has made his organization an operational branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Al Qods Brigades.
Israeli spokesmen have carefully refrained from putting these incidents together, all leading to Tehran, and inferring a well-orchestrated master plan afoot against the Jewish state that would not be put off by an unsustainable truce.
debkafile reported after midnight Monday:
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has accepted President Abdel-Fatah El-Siisi’s proposal to mediate the halt of hostilities between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas faction ruling the Gaza Strip and agreed to a ceasefire going into effect Tuesday, July 15 at 9:00 a.m., debkafile reports.
The Prime minister informed senior security cabinet ministers Monday night, July 14, that he had reached this decision after conversations with Washington and Cairo, stressing that the mediation process did not mark any change in Egyptian and Israeli policies for Hamas and the Gaza Strip. The Gaza blockade would not be lifted, and Israel would not hand over the Palestinian prisoners, released for the Israeli soldier held hostage, and re-arrested again last month during the hunt for the three Israeli teenagers whom Hamas abducted and murdered. These demands were the price set by Hamas for halting its rocket fire against the Israeli population.
Netanyahu also reported the Egyptian president was fully aware that Israel would insist on any deal with Hamas being contingent on the creation of an international mechanism to dismantle and remove Hamas’s rockets stocks and production facilities from the Gaza Strip. The ministers gained the impression from his presentation that El-Sisi had not objected to this demand.
Monday night, the Hamas prime minister of Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, announced in a speech that his movement had accepted Cairo’s proposal to negotiate a ceasefire with Israel. He held Israel responsible for initiating the military campaign against Hamas.
Official Egyptian sources published some high points of Cairo’s proposal Monday night, whereby Egyptian officials would meet with each side separately for talks held in accordance with the Cairo-brokered ceasefire of 2012 (which ended the Israeli Defensive Pillar operation).
"Israel should put an end to all of its land, sea, air hostilities against the Gaza Strip while emphasizing that no ground invasion will be implemented against Gaza or the targeting of civilians," the Egyptian proposal stipulated.
"To end all hostilities by political factions (DEBKA: Hamas is not mentioned by name) based in Gaza against Israel via land, sea, air and underground, while emphasizing the stoppage of rockets of all kinds, assaults on the borders and the targeting of civilians," the document said.
The proposal also called for the opening of crossings and facilitating the movement of people and goods through border crossings – but only in consideration of "ground security conditions".