Yesterday we reported Hamas had accepted a ceasefire with Israel based on a source within the PLO. As of right now a ceasefire has not gone into effect and The Guardian is reporting that Hamas has officially rejected the Egyptian cease fire proposal. While we stand behind the reporting of what were told, it has obviously not come to be. We are now being told by the same source that the delay in reaching a ceasefire is due to internal disagreements between Hamas’s political and armed-wings. The Guardian reports:
Hamas has officially told Egypt that it rejects an Egyptian-proposed Gaza ceasefire, a spokesman for the Islamist group has said.
“The outcome of discussions within the internal institutions of the movement was to reject the proposal and therefore, Hamas informed Egypt last night it apologises for not accepting it,” spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said on Wednesday.
Hamas’s armed wing had already spurned the Egyptian plan on Tuesday, and Israel, which briefly halted its Gaza offensive, resumed attacks after cross-border rocket fire from the Palestinian territory persisted.
We apologize for the error.
Original Post (7/15/14):
Early this evening a senior official in the Palestinian Authority said Hamas has accepted a ceasefire with Israel as brokered by Egypt. The unnamed ranking member of government indicated Hamas would make the announcement in the coming hours.
I learned of the agreement at the end of a confusing day of diplomacy. Early this morning Israel stated that it had accepted a ceasefire with Hamas, ending the eight-day offensive that killed more than 190 Palestinians and made over 17,000 homeless in Gaza, living in United Nations shelters. One Israeli was killed by ordnance from Gaza. Yet throughout the day Hamas and the Gaza-based armed group Islamic Jihad have made contradictory remarks, claiming that they had not each been presented with a draft of the proposal through official channels.
A cessation of hostilities should have been a welcome relief in Gaza, but by morning’s end it was clear that while Israel had signed on, Hamas had not made up their minds.
Within an hour of Israel’s public assent to halt fire, a Qassam rocket was launched at the port city of Ashdod. The crude weaponry set off Israeli sirens and panicked the sleeping town. But the first hit after the Israeli ceasefire was not a violation because Hamas had not yet joined the agreement. In conflicting statements, both Islamic Jihad and Hamas said last night the agreement was under consideration and this morning spokespersons for each made a counter claim that they had never received an official “ask” to cease from fire. Specifically, they each said they found out about the ceasefire from “news reports”– television spectators of their own war.
“Initiatives shouldn’t be proposed through media outlets, but rather through the obvious channels, which are resistance factions and their leaders,” said a senior Islamic Jihad official Khalid al-Batsh to Ma’an News Agency this morning.
Curiously, the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority was contacted by Egypt in advance and presented with the conditions of the ceasefire. And the terms were all over the media by this morning. It would seem unlikely that one set of Palestinian leaders would be kept fully abreast of negotiations to end the massive devastation in Gaza, and another would be left in the dark. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is set to arrive in Egypt tomorrow.
Still by mid-afternoon today with matters still unclear as to whether the cease-fire would go into effect, it seemed as though it was already discarded. By 3 pm 50 rockets had been fired from Gaza. Israel has resumed its air strikes. And shortly after I was told that Hamas had accepted the ceasefire, news broke that one Israeli had been killed after sustaining injuries from the shrapnel of a rocket that landed near the Erez crossing.
Commentators were perplexed if the ceasefire was already dead in the water, or if it had yet to go into effect. Israel on the first. “In light of the continuing Hamas fire, we are now acting against it with force. Hamas initiated this campaign, and brought upon itself considerable damage,” said Major General Sami Turgeman, according to a Haaretz report.
Willingness to continue Operation Protective Edge had carried throughout Israeli statements even days before the ceasefire was shopped around by Egypt. On Friday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made clear additional rockets from Gaza would be met with an increased offensive, leaving a ground invasion an option. “No international pressure will prevent us from acting with all force against a terrorist organization [Hamas] that seeks to destroy us,” he said. The prime minister also sharply criticized failed efforts of American negotiators over the recently collapsed nine-months of direct negotiations. “I told John Kerry and General Allen, the Americans’ expert, ‘We live here, I live here, I know what we need to ensure the security of Israel’s people,’” he continued.
(P.S. If it were the case that an agreement was reached between Egypt and Israel and neither bothered to inform Hamas, it would be a blunder tantamount to the Dayton Accords: After a long night Serbian and Bosnian presidents came to an agreement—only to realize after they had forgotten to wake the Croatian president over their middle of the night agreement, even as they negotiated away part of Croatian territory.)