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The Ceasefire Between Israel and Hamas Lasted Less Than Six Hours

That is, if it can even be called a ceasefire — Hamas claims it was never consulted by Egypt on the terms of the failed agreement.

by Alice Speri
Jul 15 2014, 4:05pm

Photo by Momen Faiz

UPDATE: An Israeli civilian was killed on Tuesday in a rocket attack on the Erez border crossing with Gaza, the IDF said. The unnamed victim is the first Israeli casualty since the beginning of the military operation against Hamas launched last week.

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Hopes for a break from the strikes that killed at least 184 Palestinians in Gaza over the last eight days were quickly crushed on Tuesday when a ceasefire brokered by Egypt collapsed in a matter of hours.

The IDF announced it had resumed strikes on Gaza, saying that since 9am on Tuesday, when the ceasefire started, Hamas had fired 76 rockets into Israel — with the Iron Dome intercepting nine of them. The civilian struck by a rocket on Tuesday was the first Israeli casualty since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge in response to the abduction and murder of three teenage settlers near Hebron, in the occupied West Bank.

Thousands of Palestinians flee northern Gaza ahead of intensified Israeli strikes. Read more here.

The Egyptian government had announced a mutual "de-escalation" of the conflict, which was supposed to lead to an end to the fighting within 12 hours. But the truce never got that far.

Israeli officials voted to accept the truce on Tuesday, but warned that they would respond strongly if rockets continued to come from the Gaza strip.

In a press conference following the announcement of the truce, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel would “have all international legitimacy to broaden the military operation to achieve the required quiet” if Hamas continued launching rockets at Israel.

A spokesman for Hamas said the group never agreed to the Egyptian deal — which he called “worthless” — and claimed that it was never asked about it in the first place. He said that the group found out details about the deal “from the media.”

"We in Hamas haven't heard about the Egyptian suggestions except on media outlets,” Sami Abu Zuhri said. “Nobody has consulted us about this initiative, and so it is natural that the initiative isn't binding to us."

Hamas has said before that any ceasefire proposal must require an end to the Israeli blockage of Gaza and the release of hundreds of Palestinians arrested in the West Bank during the search for the missing teens. Neither point was included in the Egyptian deal, which also failed to address Hamas's request that Egypt ease restrictions for Palestinians crossing the Gaza-Egypt border at Rafah.

It is not the first time Egypt attempts to mediate in the neighboring conflict, but this is the first attempted deal by the newly elected government of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, which has accused Hamas of supporting Islamist militants in Egypt. Hamas denies the claim.

Other Palestinian groups including Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine also said they had not agreed to the Egyptian proposal, Reuters reported.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas encouraged the ceasefire, as did US Secretary of State John Kerry. "I cannot condemn strongly enough the actions of Hamas in so brazenly firing rockets, in multiple numbers, in the face of a goodwill effort (to secure) a ceasefire," Kerry said from Vienna.

More than 4,000 Palestinians have already fled the northern part of Gaza following the Israeli offensive despite Hamas's insistence that people "stay in their houses."

Follow Alice Speri on Twitter: @alicesperi

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