The 72-hour truce was not quite over when Hamas rockets once again streaked through the sky. Fighting resumed in the Gaza Strip as attempts at peace negotiations between Israel and Hamas deteriorated with each viewing the other as terrorists.
Israeli airstrikes hit 30 targets Saturday, killed a senior Hamas officer and were responsible for hundreds of Israeli deaths. The State Department labeled the officer a “specially designated global terrorist.”UN Secretary General Kofi Annan called his death an “assassination.”
Moaaz Zaid of Hamas said the airstrikes hit warehouses, training sites, homes and a mosque. Militants fired five rockets into Israel, bringing the total to 70 since the truce ended. Hamas proceeded with rocket attacks shortly before the 72-hour truce expired which injured two Israelis. Israel waited six hours. They stated that Hamas “threw away the chance” to extend the ceasefire.
Egypt’s Foreign Ministry claims progress was made at the peace talks, but did not explain what exactly the “progress” entailed. Hamas wants the blockade imposed by Egypt and Israel lifted, the release of prisoners seized in the West Bank and to permit the opening of a sea port. They declare they will not retreat from their demands.
Israel insists that they need guarantees that any construction supplies sent to Gaza would not be used to rebuild tunnels. Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said a sea port should not be rewarded for using force against Israeli citizens, and maintained that issue could be discussed later.
Israel revealed they may have to reoccupy the Gaza Strip. Yuval Steinitz, Minister of Intelligence and Strategic Affairs, said Israel may have to “take full control” for a few weeks or even a couple of months to get rid of weapons-manufacturing sites and rockets, although he acknowledged that “a diplomatic solution would be much better.”
Attempts to negotiate regarding the Gaza Strip can be tricky as terrorist charges fly. Azzam al Ahmad, the leader of the Palestinian delegation, said they are staying in Egypt. Hamas resumed firing rockets into Israel before the truce ended. The Israeli delegation left Egypt Friday morning maintaining, “There will not be negotiations under fire.” Israel agreed to an extension of the truce, but Hamas did not.
Hamas wants the blockade lifted, but Israel maintains the blockade is necessary to prevent them from getting weapons. Israel demands that first the militants must disarm, which experts say Hamas will never do. Hamas still rejects Israel’s right to exist and Israel rejects Hamas as a terrorist organization.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insists that the terrorists are targeting and hiding behind civilians, and demands the tactic stop. The UN accused Israel of “attacking sleeping children,” and said Israel crimes included “attacks against… civilians.”
Hamas’ charter states that their intent is to kill Jews and “obliterate Israel.” On July 10 Hamas played a song on Al-Aqua TV encouraging others to “exterminate the cockroaches’ nest” referring to Israel. Israel says “We will not have any choice, but to defend ourselves and win this battle.”
Attempting to negotiate with terrorists about the Gaza Strip remains difficult. One Palestinian had to flee her country and find asylum in Britain because of speaking out against the corrupt government, honor killings and the lack of women’s rights. She asked, “How many Christian countries are there? How many Islamic countries are there? Why can we not have one Jewish country?”
By Laurie Stilwell