Israel resumes airstrikes on Gaza
Israel resumed aerial bombardment of Gaza Strip on Tuesday shortly after agreeing to an Egyptian-proposed ceasefire rejected by Hamas’s armed wing the Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades.
Meanwhile, Hamas continued firing rockets on Israel, killing one Israeli civilian, the first Israeli fatality in more than a week of violence, which has killed 194 Palestinians.
Under a blueprint announced by Egypt – Gaza’s neighbor and whose military-backed government has been at odds with Islamist Hamas – a mutual “de-escalation” was to have begun at 9 a.m. (0600 GMT), with hostilities ceasing within 12 hours.
Hamas’ armed wing, the Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades, rejected the ceasefire deal, a proposal that addressed in only general terms some of its key demands, and said its battle with Israel would “increase in ferocity and intensity.”
But Moussa Abu Marzouk, a top Hamas political official who was in Cairo, said the movement, which is seeking a deal that would ease Egyptian and Israeli border restrictions throttling Gaza’s economy, had made no final decision on Cairo’s proposal, according to Reuters.
The Israeli military said that since the ceasefire deal was to have gone into effect, Hamas had fired 76 rockets at Israel. It said the Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepted nine of the projectiles and the rest caused no damage or casualties.
Meanwhile, Hamas said that Israel never actually stopped the bombardment of Gaza and reported airstrikes shortly after Israel said it had agreed to the Egyptian proposal.
The Israeli army denied that, saying: “We have resumed our operation against Hamas in Gaza. Here’s why: for six hours, the IDF suspended strikes in Gaza. In that time, Hamas fired 50 rockets at Israel.”
The military slater aid it targeted at least 20 of Hamas’s hidden rocket launchers, tunnels and weapons storage facilities.
“We have exposed and damaged Hamas’ tunnel network and long-range rocket program,” the Israeli army said in a Twitter statement.
The death toll from Israel’s week-long campaign in Gaza rose Tuesday to 194.
Emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said a 24-year-old man was killed in Zeitun, east of Gaza City, on Tuesday evening.
Earlier, a 77-year-old man was killed in the southern city of Khan Yunis.
They were the first people to be killed since Israel renewed its air strikes.
Also in the south, a woman was killed in an earlier strike on Rafah.
Late Monday, the death toll rose above that of the previous major conflict between Israel and Hamas militants, an eight day confrontation in November 2012 which claimed the lives of 177 Palestinians and six Israelis.
So far, no Israelis have been killed in the week-long fighting in and around Gaza. Four people have been seriously wounded.
The Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights said on Sunday, when the toll stood at over 150, that three quarters of the dead were civilians.
And on Monday, a senior U.N. official said more than a quarter were children.
The bloodiest day so far was Saturday when 56 Gazans were killed.
Israel began Operation Protective Edge before dawn on Tuesday in an attempt to halt cross-border rocket fire by militant groups.
Since then, 922 rockets have hit Israel, while another 207 have been intercepted by its Iron Dome air defence system, the army said.