TIME Middle East

Israel: 3 Mortars Fired From Gaza During Cease-Fire

Israeli soldiers patrol along the southern Israeli border with the Gaza Strip following Israeli air strikes in the Palestinian coastal enclave before a five-hour truce went into effect, on July 17, 2014.
Israeli soldiers patrol along the southern Israeli border with the Gaza Strip following Israeli air strikes in the Palestinian coastal enclave before a five-hour truce went into effect, on July 17, 2014. Jack Guez—AFP/Getty Images

Israel has refused to say whether it will retaliate, though the military said previously it would respond if the cease-fire was broken

Palestinian militants fired three mortars from Gaza into southern Israel during a cease-fire, an Israeli military spokesperson tells TIME.

Israel and Hamas had agreed to a five-hour humanitarian cease-fire Thursday to allow the U.N. to deliver aid and supplies to the people of Gaza.

“Three mortars hit the Eshkol Regional Council area in southern Israel,” says the Israeli spokesperson. “The mortars landed in open area and there have been no fatalities or injuries.”

The incident is said to have happened around 12 p.m. local time, two hours after the cease-fire came into effect. Hamas has not yet issued a statement.

The Israeli spokesperson added that the military had previously said they would “respond immediately” if Palestinian militants breached the cease-fire agreement. However, she refused to comment on whether the Israel Defense Forces had any plans to retaliate.

The ongoing conflict, which began July 8, has seen 220 Palestinians and one Israeli killed, according to Palestinian and Israeli officials. The Palestinian health ministry say 1,450 Palestinians have been wounded as a result of Israeli strikes.

Israeli leaders have said the country began the military operation in a bid to stop Palestinian rocket attacks.

Thursday’s brief cease-fire comes two days after a cease-fire brokered by Egypt brokered failed. Though Israel agreed to Egypt’s terms, Hamas rejected them and launched more rockets into Israel.

TIME Middle East

Israel and Hamas Begin Humanitarian Cease-Fire

The crew of an Israeli self-propelled 155 mm howitzer of an artillery unit deployed at an unspecified location next to the Israeli border with Gaza prepares to fire toward targets in the Gaza Strip, 16 July 16, 2014.
The crew of an Israeli self-propelled 155 mm howitzer of an artillery unit deployed at an unspecified location next to the Israeli border with Gaza prepares to fire toward targets in the Gaza Strip, July 16, 2014. Atef Safadi—EPA

The two parties have begun observing a five-hour humanitarian cease-fire, as cross-border fighting has killed more than 220 Palestinians and one Israeli

(JERUSALEM) — Israel and Hamas began observing a five-hour humanitarian cease-fire on Thursday, after fighting raged until moments before the start of the pause and Israel vowed it would retaliate if Hamas breaks the calm.

At least three people were killed in the southern Gaza town of Rafah when an Israeli tank shell hit a house, Palestinian officials said, and Israel’s military said it thwarted an attack by more than a dozen Gaza militants who tunneled under the border.

The pause comes on the 10th day of fighting that has seen Israel carry out more than a thousand air strikes on the embattled Palestinian territory as Hamas has fired a similar number of rockets into Israel, extending their range to the country’s economic and cultural heartland.

The cross-border fighting has so far killed more than 230 Palestinians and an Israeli, according to officials.

The two sides agreed to the cease-fire following a request by the United Nations, to allow Palestinians to stock up on food, water and other necessities.

As the cease-fire began, the Bank of Palestine opened one of its branches in Gaza City’s Rimal neighborhood, with hundreds of people lining up to withdraw money.

While both Israel and Hamas said they would respect the pause in fighting, Israel said it would not hesitate to retaliate for any attacks.

“If the humanitarian window is exploited by Hamas for attacks against Israel, we will respond,” Israel’schief military spokesman, Brig. Gen. Motti Almoz, told Israeli Channel 2. “If we need to attack we will act without hesitation.”

Fighting continued early Thursday in the lead-up to the cease-fire, with the military saying it foiled an attack by 13 militants who sneaked into Israel through a tunnel from Gaza. Israeli aircraft struck the fighters at the mouth of the tunnel some 250 meters (820 feet) inside Israel, near a kibbutz.

Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a military spokesman, said the military believed at least one militant was killed in the strike and that the remaining fighters appeared to have returned to Gaza through the tunnel. Footage released by the military showed a number of individuals creeping slowly toward what appeared to be a hole in the ground. A separate shot showed an explosion from an airstrike on the tunnel entrance.

Lerner said the attack “could have had devastating consequences” and said the militants were armed with “extensive weapons,” including rocket-propelled grenades.

Hamas’ military wing claimed responsibility for the infiltration, saying in a statement that “during the withdrawal after the completion of its mission,” the militants were struck by “jet fighters.” It said the group returned safely, however, and that no one was killed.

Lerner said the cease-fire would go ahead despite the incident. It was the second time militants attempted to sneak into Israel in this round of fighting. Last week, four fighters were killed when they infiltrated Israel from the sea.

The military also said 15 rockets were fired at Israel Thursday morning, including toward areas in the center, some 90 kilometers (55 miles) from the Gaza Strip.

In fighting early Thursday, Israeli aircraft struck 37 targets, including the homes of senior Hamas leaders Fathi Hamad and Khalil al-Haya, the military said.

The killing of the three people by the tank shell in Rafah was confirmed by the Hamas-run police and Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Kidra.

The Gaza Interior Ministry had earlier said that 30 houses were struck in the Israeli raids. Four people were killed and a 75-year-old woman died of wounds suffered the day before, the ministry said.

Egypt has meanwhile resumed efforts to broker a longer-term truce after its initial plan was rejected by Hamas earlier in the week. Hamas, which seized Gaza seven years ago, wants international guarantees that the territory’s blockade by Israel and Egypt will be eased significantly and that Israel will release Palestinian prisoners.

A senior Hamas official said the group’s deputy leader, Moussa Abu Marzouk, met with Egyptian officials Wednesday night to present Hamas’ demands for a cease-fire, which were also delivered to Jordan and the U.N. The official said Hamas wants countries other than Egypt to be involved in forging an agreement to end the fighting, a sign of Hamas’ mistrust of Cairo.

Egypt, the first Arab country to make peace with Israel, has often served as a mediator between Israeland Hamas. But Hamas’ position vis-a-vis Egypt has been weakened following the ouster last year of President Mohammed Morsi, an Islamist and close ally of Hamas.

Egypt’s new leaders have since launched a sweeping crackdown on Hamas, shutting down a network of smuggling tunnels along the border that were the Islamic militant group’s key economic lifeline — and weapons supply route.

The official spoke of condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the diplomatic steps with the media.

___

Laub reported from Gaza City, Gaza Strip. Associated Press writer Ibrahim Barzak in Gaza City contributed to this report.

TIME Middle East

American Teen Beaten in the Middle East Returns to Florida

Tariq Abu Khdeir, 15, and his mother flew back to Tampa on a flight arriving from New York and were greeted by about 50 cheering supporters

(TAMPA, Fla.) — The Palestinian-American teenager who relatives allege was beaten by Israeli authorities returned home to Florida late Wednesday, saying he will never think of freedom in the same way again.

Tariq Abu Khdeir, 15, and his mother flew back to Tampa on a flight arriving from New York and were greeted by about 50 cheering supporters waving American and Palestinian flags. The Khdeirs had flown out of Israel earlier in the day.

“I am only 15 but I will never think of freedom the same as I did two months ago,” Tariq said upon arrival at Tampa International Airport. “No child, whether they are Palestinian or Israeli, deserves to die.”

The teenager said the thoughts and prayers of the supporters had helped him, adding “I got through these past two weeks because I knew you were all thinking of me.”

Now, he said, he just wanted time with friends and to relax. “It feels so good to be back in Tampa. Can I even put it in words? I can’t wait to go back to play with my friends and go fishing,” he added, speaking only minutes.

Hassan Shibly, the teen’s attorney and the executive director of the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, had said Tariq suffered head trauma and had to receive stitches on his face when beaten two weeks ago as he was arrested during a protest. Supporters say Tariq’s beating was videotaped. The Israeli justice ministry has said an investigation has been opened into the footage.

There were no immediately apparent signs of injuries to Khdeir on his arrival.

Israeli authorities released Tariq shortly after his arrest and sentenced him to nine days of house arrest while they investigated what they say was his participation in violent protests over the death of Tariq’s cousin, 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir. His family denied that he participated in the protests. Palestinians suspect Mohammed Abu Khdeir was killed by Israeli extremists exacting revenge for the abduction and killings of three Israeli teens in the West Bank last month.

His mother, Suha Khdeir, said Wednesday in Tampa that the last two weeks had been a “nightmare.” She wiped tears from her eyes as she spoke and added she was “grateful” for the support she received at home in the Tampa area.

“I cannot begin to describe to you the pain I felt when I looked at his face for the first time after that beating,” she said.

Friends and family have said Tariq went on a vacation to visit relatives he hadn’t seen in about 10 years — not to be part of a conflict. They have described him as a good student who likes basketball, soccer and video games.

Tariq’s arrest happened shortly before Israel attacked Gaza to stop Hamas members from launching rockets into its territory. Earlier Wednesday, Israel and Hamas agreed to a five-hour U.N. brokered “humanitarian” pause to their 9-day-long battle, offering the most encouraging sign yet that the fierce fighting could come to an end. Israel’s bombardment of Gaza has killed more than 200 Palestinians, including four boys struck on a beach Wednesday by shells fired from a navy ship.

TIME Israel

Israel, Hamas Agree on Short Cease-Fire After Israeli Strike Kills 4 Palestinian Boys

Four boys killed on Gaza beach
A Palestinian man carries the body of a boy, one of four whom medics say were killed by a shell fired by an Israeli naval gunboat, on a beach in Gaza City. Mohammed Talatene—Reuters

IDF calls boys' death a 'tragic outcome'

Each time Israel goes to war in Gaza, there always seems to be some horrific military blunder that Israel surely wishes it could undo. This time, it’s the deaths of four young boys who had been playing hide and seek among fishermen’s shacks near the Gaza City harbor before an explosion from an Israeli airstrike killed them.

Peter Beaumont of the Guardian was among the journalists to document Wednesday’s incident most vividly. He had been sitting writing a story on the terrace of the nearby al-Deira Hotel, a favorite haunt of foreign correspondents, when the events unfolded before his eyes. He and other journalists tended three children who were injured by shrapnel, initially unaware that the four boys, aged between nine and 11, lay dead on the beach or in the sooty remains of a waterside shack.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) took responsibility for the strike — initially thought to have been carried out by a ship and later identified as an airstrike — and called the killing of the four boys tragic. “Based on preliminary results, the target of this strike was Hamas terrorist operatives,” the IDF said in a statement. “The reported civilian casualties from this strike are a tragic outcome.” The IDF added that it was “carefully investigating the incident in question.” But neither the promises to investigate nor the acknowledgement of innocent lives lost is likely to quell international dismay over the mounting death toll in Gaza from Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge.”

A proposed truce which fell apart a day before Wednesday’s strike left Israel looking like it was keen to meet “quiet with quiet,” a slogan Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has used often recently to show his reluctance to get embroiled in another Gaza war. But Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other militant groups rejected the deal, saying they were not consulted in a plan which may have suited Jerusalem and Cairo, but didn’t meet Hamas’ basic demands. Following the ill-fated cease-fire’s collapse, Netanyahu’s Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, proposed in a press conference that Israel overthrow Hamas and re-conquer the Gaza Strip, from which Israel withdrew in 2005 after occupying the impoverished coastal territory for nearly four decades. An event like the four boys’ deaths could make such a ground invasion less palatable, and will likely increase diplomatic efforts to reach a cease-fire formula that both Israel and Hamas can tolerate.

Meanwhile, Israel has been trying to show its critics that it works harder than any other army to avoid civilian casualties more now than in than any previous flare-up between Israel and Hamas. Earlier this week, for example, the IDF released this video showing pilots making a last-minute decision not to bomb military targets because they detected too many non-combatants in the building set for destruction. A botched and brutal attack like Wednesday’s, however, underscores the gap between the sophisticated weaponry the IDF has at its disposal and the limits of the technology to prevent what military minds euphemistically like to call “collateral damage” – a bunch of pre-teens playing on the beach.

For Palestinians, the boys killed on the beach are likely to become icons of the conflict, joining a litany of horror stories in which whole families have been killed in single blows. The boys’ fathers, all fisherman, wrapped the children in the yellow flags of secular Fatah – not the green flag of Islamic Hamas – before they buried them, drastically damaging the message Israel hoped to impress upon average Palestinians: that it is at war with Hamas, not a whole people.

The IDF announced late Wednesday night it would hold its bombardments of Gaza for five hours on Thursday upon the United Nations’ suggestion. Hamas reportedly agreed to do the same several hours later. A UN official told TIME they had been working for several days to get Israel to agree to what they call a “humanitarian pause,” allowing aid workers to get to people in need and allowing Palestinians to go out and buy food. Earlier this week, the official said, two workers were killed in an IDF airstrike while they were out trying to fix damage to water and sewage pipes.

The IDF said that when the window is up, some people in Gaza should not return to their homes. “During this time, we will hold our fire in Gaza. This humanitarian window is meant to allow civilians to resupply needed goods,” the IDF said in a statement on its Twitter feed. “When the scheduled window ends at 15:00, Beit Lahyia, Shuja’iya & Zeitoun residents, for their own safety, should not return to their homes. If Hamas fires rockets at Israel during the humanitarian window, the IDF will respond with force.”

TIME Israel

Israel, Hamas Agree to Temporary Humanitarian Cease-Fire in Gaza

Sister of a Palestinian boy from Baker family, whom medics said was killed along with three other children from same family by a shell fired by Israeli naval gunboat, mourns during their funeral in Gaza City
The sister (C) of a Palestinian boy from the Baker family, whom medics said was killed along with three other children from the same family by a shell fired by an Israeli naval gunboat, mourns during their funeral in Gaza City July 16, 2014. Mohammed Salem—Reuters

Israel and Hamas have reportedly accepted plea for a five-hour "humanitarian pause" to fighting in Gaza brokered by the United Nations.

Updated July 16, 7:40 p.m. ET

Hamas agreed to accept a humanitarian cease-fire for a five-hour period on Thursday, as requested by the United Nations. “The group agrees to a ceasefire for five hours,” starting from 10:00 am (0700 GMT) Thursday, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zukhri said in a statement to Agence France-Presse. Hamas’ agreement comes after Israel already approved the deal, which United Nations Special Coordinator Robert Serry called a “humanitarian pause.”

Serry asked for the “pause” in the region on an Israeli television station on Wednesday evening so that humanitarian aid can be delivered to Gaza.

A spokesperson at the United Nations told TIME the cease-fire is a temporary cease-fire which would not prejudice larger efforts to bring a cease-fire to the region.

The request for a temporary cease-fire comes after the militant group Hamas on Tuesday declined an Egyptian effort to call a longer-lasting truce.

At least 200 Palestinians and one Israeli have died since this latest bout of fighting began 9 days ago, CBS News reports. A rocket attack in Gaza City Wednesday reportedly killed four young boys playing on the beach, the New York Times reports. UN officials say at least 75% of the Palestinian casualties have been civilians.

During a statement on foreign policy Wednesday, U.S. President Barack Obama said that Israel has a right to defend itself from rocket attacks, noting he is proud that the “Iron Dome” system the U.S. helped fund is working. But he added the U.S. is working to pursue a long-term cease-fire in the region.

“The Israeli people and Palestinians deserve to live in peace,” Obama said.

TIME Israel

Israel Targets Homes of Senior Hamas Leaders

Smoke rises following what police said was an Israeli air strike in Gaza City July 16, 2014.
Smoke rises following what police said was an Israeli air strike in Gaza City July 16, 2014. Ahmed Zakot—Reuters

The Palestinian death toll in nine days of fighting rose to 204, with some 1,450 wounded, Palestinian health officials said

(GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip) — Israel on Wednesday intensified air attacks on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip following a failed Egyptian cease-fire effort, targeting the homes of four senior leaders of the Islamic militant movement. It also told tens of thousands of residents to leave Gaza’s border areas ahead of more strikes.

The Palestinian death toll in nine days of fighting rose to 204, with some 1,450 wounded, Palestinian health officials said. On the Israeli side, one man was killed and several people were wounded since the fighting erupted on July 8.

The renewed bombings came a day after Israel initially accepted an Egyptian truce proposal that called for a halt of hostilities. That was to be followed by talks on the terms of a longer-term cease-fire, including easing Gaza’s seven-year-old border blockade by Israel and Egypt.

Hamas rejected the plan and instead launched more rockets at Israel. The militant group views a significant easing of the blockade as key to its survival, but does not believe Egypt’s current rulers — who deposed a Hamas-friendly government in Cairo last year — can be fair brokers.

As Cairo’s effort collapsed, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Hamas will pay a high price for rejecting the truce offer.

The website of the Gaza Interior Ministry said Israel warplanes carried out dozens of air strikes before dawn Wednesday, targeting 30 houses, including those of senior Hamas leaders Mahmoud Zahar, Jamila Shanti, Fathi Hamas and Ismail Ashkar.

Zahar was a key figure in Hamas’ violent takeover of Gaza in 2007, while the other three were members of the Palestinian parliament elected in 2006. Many Hamas leaders have gone into hiding since the beginning of the Israeli offensive.

Alongside the air strikes, Israel also told tens of thousands of residents of the northern town of Beit Lahiya and the Zeitoun and Shijaiyah neighborhoods of Gaza City, all near the border with Israel, to evacuate their homes by 8 a.m. Wednesday. The warnings were delivered in automated phone calls, text messages and leaflets dropped from planes.

The Israeli military said in its message that large numbers of rockets were launched from these areas and that Israel plans to bomb these locations.

“Whoever disregards these instructions and fails to evacuate immediately, endangers their own lives, as well as those of their families,” the message said.

On Wednesday morning, hundreds of residents of Zeitoun and Shijaiyah were seen walking in the streets, carrying small bags with belongings.

Older children carried smaller ones, in their arms or on their backs. Some of the women and children cried, looking terrified.

The Wafa Rehabilitation Center in Shijaiyah, which cares for 15 disabled and elderly patients, received several calls demanding the patients evacuate, said its director, Basman Ashi.

He said an Israel shell hit near the building, causing damage to the second floor, but no injuries. Ashi said he won’t evacuate because his elderly patients have nowhere to go.

Four foreign volunteers — from England, the U.S., France and Sweden — have set up camp at the rehabilitation center to deter the military from targeting it.

English volunteer Rina Andolini, 32, said the patients range in age from 12 to over 70 and none can walk or move without assistance. She said there are also 17 Palestinian staff members.

Andolini said the patients are living in a constant state of fear, intensified by the Israeli tank shelling from across the border.

When asked about the situation at the rehabilitation center, the office of the Israeli military spokesman said its residents “have been asked repeatedly to leave.”

“There is a rocket launching site in the area,” the military said, adding that Gaza militants use the center to hide “behind civilians.”

TIME Israel

Police: First Israeli Citizen Killed by Gaza Fire

(JERUSALEM) — Israeli police say a man in his 30s has been killed by fire from the Gaza Strip, the first Israeli death in more than a week of fighting.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that Israeli man was delivering food to soldiers Tuesday at the Erez Crossing with Gaza when he was struck by a mortar.

Nearly 200 Palestinians have been killed in strikes in Gaza since Israel launched the campaign over a week ago to stop rocket fire at its citizens.

Gaza militants have fired more than 1,100 rockets toward Israel in the fighting. Mostly thanks to its “Iron Dome” defense system, no Israelis were killed till Tuesday.

Rosenfeld said at least 15 Israelis, including several children, have been injured by the Palestinian rocket fire since the fighting began.

TIME Israel

Why the Israel-Gaza Cease-Fire Failed

Hamas felt it wasn't consulted properly by the Egyptians brokering the truce — and that it could have been offered more

+ READ ARTICLE

The morning started with a slight patina of optimism. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened his cabinet at 7 a.m., two hours before an Egyptian-proposed cease-fire with Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups in Gaza was due to take effect.

They voted in favor of the cease-fire, with Netanyahu’s two most prominent hard-line coalition partners — Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett — voting against.

By 9 a.m., the Israel Air Force (IAF) strikes on the Gaza Strip ceased, exactly one week since the operation it dubbed Protective Edge began. But in the tense hours that followed, Hamas made it clear through various venues that it has no intention of holding its fire just yet, and sent more than 30 rockets careening into southern and central Israel. The Iron Dome shot several of them down, but an Israeli soldier was lightly injured by shrapnel from a rocket explosion in the town of Sderot, and two additional rockets exploded in the Ashkelon area, causing fires. Hamas also said it fired a Syrian-made rocket at Haifa, Haaretz reported.

Netanyahu warned that Israel’s appetite for restraint wouldn’t last long. “We accepted the Egyptian cease-fire proposal to give an opportunity to demilitarize the Gaza Strip from rockets. If Hamas continues to fire at Israel, Israel will have the international legitimacy to take action,” he said at midday.

Soon after, the IAF carried out a single air strike on the northern Gaza Strip, with no causalities reported.

It might be hard to fathom why Hamas leaders would blow an opportunity for a cease-fire, given the 192 Gazans killed and over 1,400 wounded in the past week, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. The reason: the proposal fashioned by Egypt was not discussed with Hamas leaders, who feel it suits Israel far more than them.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders say they were not consulted, and the proposal does not hit on some of the basic elements they outlined as a condition of a truce. Specifically, they are asking for an end to the “siege” of Gaza, an amorphous term that refers to the economic and physical isolation Israel has sought to impose on the territory, in an effort to squeeze Hamas and potentially turn frustrated Gazans against it.

Israel is also holding in administrative detention about 50 Hamas-affiliated Palestinians who were released in the Gilad Shalit deal of 2011, and who were rearrested in mid-June following the kidnapping and subsequent murder of three Israeli teenagers — the event that sparked the current spiral in bloodshed.

“Nobody consulted them from the Egyptian side, so that’s why they were so unhappy with this,” explains Mkhaimar Abusada, a political scientist at al-Azhar University in Gaza. In contrast, he notes, in the November 2012 operation dubbed Pillar of Defense, officials working with Egypt’s Islamist then President Mohamed Morsi worked closely with Hamas to come up with a proposal for a cease-fire.

But that was then. The government of President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi is far less sympathetic to Hamas than his Muslim Brotherhood predecessor, and this time, his office dealt directly with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas instead. In short, Hamas was insulted.

Most importantly, Abusada explains, Hamas feels it deserves a better deal in exchange for the qualitative ante it has just upped, in shooting longer-range rockets and flying a drone into Israel, from which it claims to have photographed Israel’s defense complex in Tel Aviv.

“Hamas feels that that if it agrees to this, it hasn’t achieved anything more that it achieved in 2012. They feel they’ve done much better in this round of fighting … and so we should get a much better deal in order to end the fighting,” says Abusada, who studies the Islamic movement.

At the same time, he notes, the price that Hamas will pay for continuing to refuse a cease-fire is high: it will annoy the Egyptians, lose points with war-weary Gazans, and could eat away at the international sympathy that has built up for Gaza amid the horrifying footage of a death and destruction.

“Hamas has not made its final decision, and is engaging in its own internal dialogue now,” Abusada adds. “My hunch is that Hamas is going to accept the cease-fire, eventually, because to say no to the Egyptians will cost them too much.”

But it may be too late — today, anyway. At about 2:30 p.m., Netanyahu authorized a resumption of air strikes on the Gaza Strip, and made the decision public soon afterward.

“Since the cease-fire started at 9, we’ve have dozens of rockets on Israel, and it’s clear the other side rejected the Egyptian proposal,” an Israeli official tells TIME. “We had five hours of giving it a chance. It’s clearly unsustainable that Israel would hold its fire any longer and let its cities be bombarded by rockets.”

TIME Israel

Israel Accepts Egypt’s Cease-Fire Plan, but Hamas Vows to Keep Fighting

"This proposal is not acceptable," said a senior Hamas official

+ READ ARTICLE

Despite previously acknowledging some “diplomatic movement,” Hamas rejected Egypt’s cease-fire plan for the latest Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Tuesday — just moments after Israel accepted the proposal.

A statement released by Hamas’ armed wing, al-Qassam Brigades, said the group “totally and completely” rejected the terms of an Egyptian brokered cease fire, adding that without further concessions from Israel, “it was not worth the ink it was written with.” Representatives from Islamic Jihad, which also has been involved in the fighting, also rejected an unconditional ceasefire.

Roughly four hours after Israel’s security cabinet announced that it had accepted the cease fire, Israel said a fresh volley of 35 rockets were fired from Gaza into southern Israel, causing minor damage.

Cairo’s proposal aimed to stop a weeklong conflict that has seen at least 185 Gazans killed. The truce called for a 48-hour cessation of fire, followed by immediate talks for a longer-term truce and an eventual opening of Gaza’s border crossing, the New York Times reports.

The Associated Press reports that a senior Hamas official, Sami Abu Zuhri, said Egypt’s plan for a cease-fire in Gaza was “not acceptable.”

Al-Qassam Brigades said on the website that excerpts from the plan published in the media indicated it was “an initiative of kneeling and submission,” reports Reuters.

“Our battle with the enemy continues and will increase in ferocity and intensity,” al-Qassam Brigades added.

[AP]

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