Hours before a ceasefire was set to expire between Israel and Hamas, negotiations in Cairo have collapsed and rockets and air strikes have resumed. A deal on the status of Gaza or an extension of talks was expected at midnight tonight. However the Israeli delegation in Egypt has been sent back to Tel Aviv.
At 4:30pm today the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) announced via Twitter that the ceasefire had ended because of three rockets fired toward Beersheva. “In response to today’s rocket fire, we have begun striking terror targets in the Gaza Strip,” said the IDF Spokesman. The Israeli delegation in Cairo was then sent home and there are no immediate plans for when they will return to indirect negotiations with Hamas. “At the moment the only decision was to take them back,” said the Prime Minister’s spokesperson Mark Regev.
Although Al Jazeera reported a spokeperson for Hamas said it was still unclear if the group or other armed factions in Gaza had fired the initial rockets. Yet an hour after Israel’s statement al-Qassam, Hamas’s armed-wing in Gaza tweeted an understanding of sorts that they had ceded from Israel’s “quiet returned with quiet” policy. “If Netanyahu did not understand well the message and the demands of #Gaza through the language of politics in Cairo, we know the way that persuade them to understand” said al-Qassam on their Arabic language account.
In the afternoon Israel carried out 20 strikes on Gaza, mostly in the north wounding five, including three children, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health. An additional five rockets were fired from Gaza, one of which fell inside of the Gaza Strip. No casualties have been reported on either side. Still the renewed bombings into Gaza have sent Palestinians rushing back to shelters. While last week UNRWA schools housed 180,000 displaced persons, today the number has raised back up to the 240,000 persons, where it stood during the height of the ground invasion.
This latest ceasefire was the eleventh in a series of pauses since Israel’s Operation Protective Edge started over six weeks ago. It was a 24-hour extension tagged onto the tail end of a five-day ceasefire. Israeli and Palestinian leaders were poised to come to an agreement on scaling back aspects of Gaza’s blockade, namely the movement of goods and peoples through the land crossings with Israel. While Palestinians were initially hopeful to re-open their seaport, which would allow Gaza access to an international trade market, an Israeli official said last week that was off of the table. “Maritime is left to the final status,” said Minister of Intelligence Yuval Steinitz at a press briefing last Wednesday.
Since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge 2,016 Palestinians have been killed along with 67 Israelis, 64 of which were soldiers.