TIME controversy

Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz Backtrack on Israel and Gaza Letter

"The Counselor" - Photocall
Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz attend a photocall for 'The Counselor' at The Dorchester on October 5, 2013 in London, England. Dave J Hogan--Getty Images

The Oscar-winning actors issue clarifying statements on the Israel-Hamas conflict, after being heavily criticized for co-signing an open letter lamenting Israel's actions in Gaza

Spanish actors Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz have each released statements clarifying their position on the war in Gaza after the married couple were heavily criticized for co-signing an open letter in a Spanish newspaper which condemned Israel’s actions.

The letter, published by El Diario earlier this week, included the signatures of many heavyweights in the Spanish film industry and called on the European Union to “condemn the bombing by land, sea and air against the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip.”

Since the letter was published, the Oscar-winning couple has faced fierce criticism and accusations of anti-Semitism in Israel and beyond. The response has been so hostile that both actors issued statements in order to clarify their personal intentions. The No Country for Old Men star released a statement titled “Plea for Peace” on Thursday, which read:

“My signature was solely meant as a plea for peace. Destruction and hatred only generate more hatred and destruction.

While I was critical of the Israeli military response, I have great respect for the people of Israel and deep compassion for their losses. I am now being labeled by some as anti-Semitic, as is my wife – which is the antithesis of who we are as human beings. We detest anti-Semitism as much as we detest the horrible and painful consequences of war.

I was raised to be against any act of violence, and the consequent suffering of humanity for it, regardless of religions, ethnicities and borders. Too many innocent Palestinian mothers have lost their children to this conflict. Too many innocent Israeli mothers share the same grief. There should not be any political reason that can justify such enormous pain on both sides. It’s my hope that leaders involved in this complicated struggle will heed the call of United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, ‘In the name of humanity, the violence must stop.’

Palestinians and Israelis in the region deserve to have their safety and human rights recognized and respected so in the near future they may find peace and co-existence, for themselves and their innocent children. So generations to come could bring hope, forgiveness and compassion for each other. This is the most basic and necessary way to peace for all of us.”

Bardem’s statement came hot on the heels of his wife’s own public clarification, as Cruz released a statement to USA Today on Wednesday, which said:

“I don’t want to be misunderstood on this important subject. I’m not an expert on the situation and I’m aware of the complexity of it. My only wish and intention in signing that group letter is the hope that there will be peace in both Israel and Gaza. I am hopeful all parties can agree to a cease fire and there are no more innocent victims on either side of the border. I wish for unity, and peace.”

Earlier this week, TIME’s Lily Rothman wrote about the backlash that often follows when celebrities wade into the thorny issue of Middle East politics. Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and Scarlett Johansson have all faced blow-back in recent years after expressing opinions on the situation in Israel, whether on social media or in interviews about endorsements. The public ire is often harsh enough that these celebrities are quick to walk back on — or delete — their original statements.

In the case of Bardem and Cruz, the pair appear to be attempting to neutralize the backlash by expanding on their sympathies for civilians on both sides of the border and emphasizing their wish for peace.

TIME Middle East

72-Hour Cease-Fire Announced in Gaza

Mideast Israel Palestinians
Amidst the morning fog, smoke from an Israeli strike rises over Gaza City on July 26, 2014 Lefteris Pitarakis—AP

The unconditional cease-fire will allow both sides to negotiate while victims are buried and the injured receive aid

The U.S. and U.N. announced Thursday that Israel and Hamas have agreed to a 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire, which will begin Friday morning at 8 a.m. local time.

The U.S. and U.N. said in a joint statement that both sides have agreed to suspend fighting in Gaza while they engaged in negotiations in Cairo.

“During this time the forces on the ground will remain in place,” said the announcement released jointly by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Israeli troops that have entered Gaza will remain there.

“This cease-fire is critical to giving innocent civilians a much-needed reprieve from violence,” the statement reads. “During this period, civilians in Gaza will receive urgently needed humanitarian relief, and the opportunity to carry out vital functions, including burying the dead, taking care of the injured, and restocking food supplies. Overdue repairs on essential water and energy infrastructure could also continue during this period.”

More than 1,400 Palestinians and dozens of Israelis have died since the strikes began earlier this month.

TIME Middle East

15 Killed in Gaza Market Airstrike As Temporary Cease-Fire Passes

As at least 15 were killed in the shelling of a UN school in the Jabaliya refugee camp in Gaza

Updated 1:22 pm ET

An Israeli airstrike on a busy market in Gaza has killed at least 15 and wounded 150 others, the Associated Press reports.

The strike occurred during a four-hour humanitarian cease-fire,which occurred between 3pm and 7pm local time, in the Gaza Strip. The market is situated within Shejaiya, an area which Israel said wasn’t protected by the parameters of its cease-fire.

A Gaza healthy ministry official, Ashraf al-Kidra, told the AP the Gazans shopping in the market believed they were protected.

In a statement released before the cease-fire, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said that the humanitarian window would “not apply to the areas in which IDF soldiers are currently operating” — among which is Shejaiya.

The IDF told residents not to return to areas which they were asked to evacuate, and warned “the IDF will respond to any attempt to exploit this window to harm Israeli citizens and Israeli soldiers.” During the cease-fire, the AP reports, Palestinian militants did fire rockets into Israel.

The IDF scheduled the cease-fire earlier Wednesday, after another night of heavy fighting between it and Hamas saw 15 people killed in the Israeli shelling of a UN school in the Jabaliya refugee camp in Gaza.

The U.N. Relief and Works Agency said that Tuesday’s attack was the sixth time the IDF had struck a U.N. school during the current conflict. In a statement on their website they called the incident “an affront to all of us, a source of universal shame. Today the world stands disgraced.”

A spokesperson for the IDF told TIME: “The initial IDF investigation suggests that [Palestinian] militants fired mortar shells from the vicinity of the school,” to which the IDF responded. The spokesperson added that the investigation is ongoing.

The White House condemned the UN school shelling Wednesday afternoon, the Associated Press reports, but did blame any party for it.

The shelling of the school happened during the 23rd day of operations in the Gaza strip which has so far seen over 1,258 Palestinians killed, according to Gaza’s health ministry. Israel has lost 56 in the fighting.

[AP]

TIME Middle East

Israel’s Operation in Gaza Spreads Beyond Just Tunnels

The collapsed minaret of mosque seen from the destroyed living room of a Palestinian family in a building across the street in Gaza City, Gaza Strip, July 30, 2014.
The collapsed minaret of mosque seen from the destroyed living room of a Palestinian family in a building across the street in Gaza City, Gaza Strip, July 30, 2014. Oliver Weiken—EPA

The Israeli Defense Forces now have Gaza's infrastructure in their sights

Updated July 30, 6:06 a.m. ET

Israeli officials have said in the past week that their main goal in the war against Hamas in Gaza is to destroy as many of what it calls “terror tunnels,” the underground passages built by the militant group that have repeatedly been used to infiltrate Israel. But following a day in which Hamas militants managed to kill 10 Israeli soldiers, Israel responded Tuesday with massive air strikes that seemed aimed at both major infrastructure as well as the visible symbols of Hamas’s power in the Gaza Strip.

In overnight strikes on Monday by aircraft, tanks and navy gunboats, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) attacked 150 targets in Gaza, including the home and office of Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh’s home, the influential Shujaiyeh battalion commander’s home and the Ministry of Finance, as well as al-Aqsa Radio and al-Aqsa Television, two media outlets operated by Hamas. The IDF said it attacked two Hamas command centers and four weapons-storage sites hidden inside mosques and a tunnel Tuesday, before targeting five mosques overnight where it said Hamas had hidden weapons.

Most prominently, it struck Gaza’s main power plant, all but destroying it. “The plant wasn’t working fully in the past few months due to shortages of fuel that comes from Israel,” Rafeeq Abu Maliha, the plant’s director, told reporters. “Three days ago Israel started to hit the station. The first time one missile hit the water and cooling engine. The second air strike they hit the administration building. Last night’s strike was on [a] streaming engine, and in the morning today the tanks of fuel were hit and caused a huge fire in the station.” Gaza has been suffering from severe shortages of power for years,” he said, and many areas of the power plant hit over the course of the war were not currently repairable because of “access difficulties.”

Israel renewed intense airstrikes on Gaza
A Palestinian man walks in front of a fire raging at Gaza’s main power plant on July 29, 2014, in Gaza City, following an overnight Israeli air strike Oliver Weiken—EPA

A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces denied the power station had been on Israel’s hit-list. “The power plant definitely was not a target,” Lt. Col. Peter Lerner tells TIME. “We checked with all the forces in the area, air, ground and naval, and we’ve not been able to determine that the IDF has carried out this strike. It could be a Palestinian mortar hit it – we don’t know.” He said the IDF was “looking into” the incident.

Tunnels and rockets are easy for Israel to explain as military targets — both directly threaten Israeli citizens. But if it did intentionally hit the power plant, as well as government and communications buildings, it might indicate that Israel is taking its Operation Protective Edge to a far more punishing level — a move some more conservative members in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government have long advocated. Economy Minister Naftali Bennett of the influential Jewish Home party on Tuesday said that simply destroying Hamas’ tunnel network isn’t enough, and called on Israel to continue the operation until Hamas loses control. “Hit Hamas without mercy,” Bennett said. “Day and night. On weekdays and holidays. Without respite and without rest. Until they are defeated.”

Whether or not the more conservative Bennett represents the mainstream thinking of the Israeli government, he’s been able to repeatedly make strong statements without a public reprimand from Netanyahu. What seems clear is that the Israeli government and the top political brass fall into two camps: those who see the war ending with the goal of deterrence — hurting Hamas’ military capabilities and making them think twice before launching another rocket once a meaningful cease-fire is actually reached — and those who are gunning for destruction, whether by bringing Hamas to its knees or by managing to overthrow it altogether.

But Talal Okal, an independent Palestinian analyst who lives in Gaza, argues that an extended bombing campaign would be unlikely to topple Hamas. On the contrary, the destruction being broadcast from Gaza will only underscore the need for the kind of international rebuilding efforts that can only be achieved by lifting the embargo on the strip — which happens to be a main demand of Hamas. “I don’t think the Israeli targeting of infrastructure will push Hamas to collapse, but it will be an extra reason to insist to make removing the siege that was imposed seven years ago,” he says. “Everyone suffers from it, Hamas people and ordinary Gazans.

“But at the same time it might push the people to trend more toward finding a political solution soon, as the war is more tiring by the day. I think people are actually supporting Hamas more than in previous wars as there are dead [Israeli] soldiers” for Hamas to point to as a tangible achievement, he explains. “The loss is not only in Gaza but also in Israel, so that would make the people here able to survive and stand more.”

No one doubts that the conditions in Gaza have become extreme. The loss of electricity is causing water shortages and sanitation challenges. The electricity lines along the main street of Gaza City are down entirely, as well as in frontline areas like Shujaiya, Beit Hanoun, Zaitoun and the east of Khan Younis. With no electricity available to charge phones and with many land lines cut by IDF strikes, it is becoming hard for many Gazans to so much as place a phone call to check on a relative or call an ambulance in the event of an emergency.

“Since last night we have been hearing shelling and bombs in the area of the plant, and we’ve had no electricity for three days now,” says Yasser Bakheet, 28, a resident of Nussirat, a neighborhood near the power plant. As much as a missile strike, he now fears an ongoing humanitarian disaster and the outbreak of disease in Gaza. “I don’t care about politics,” he says. “What I care about now is to live normally or at least get the basic needs for me and my family.”

Late Tuesday, the latest diplomatic efforts raised hopes that a cease-fire could be on the horizon. But Mohammed Deif, the head of al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, said in broadcast comments that there would be no truce in Gaza unless Israel lifts its “siege.” Fighting continued overnight, with a UN school in the Jabaliya refugee camp attacked and at least 15 Palestinians killed. Tuesday was the deadliest day in the conflict so far, a Gaza health official told the AP. A war that was billed as an operation to halt Hamas rocket fire seems no closer to resolution than when it started three weeks ago.

— With reporting by Hazem Balousha / Gaza City

TIME Middle East

Doctors Save Unborn Child of Pregnant Woman Killed in Gaza

The newborn girl, who is still in intensive care, was named after her late mother

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Shayma was born during an attack on the Gaza strip. But when doctors pulled her tiny body from the womb, her mother Shayma al-Sheikh Qanan had already died, the AFP reported.

“We tried to revive her but she had died on the way to hospital,” Fadi al-Kharti, a doctor at Deir al-Balah hospital in Gaza, told AFP. “Then we noticed movement in her stomach, and estimated she was about 36 weeks pregnant,” he said.

The twenty-three-year-old was in her home in the central Gaza Strip town of Deir al-Balah when an explosion struck nearby. Doctors performed an emergency Caesarian section and saved the baby, who was named after her late mother.

The newborn, now four days old, is currently in an incubator in an intensive care unit, but doctors worry about long term damage to her brain as her mother was dead for more than an hour before she was born. She will have to spend at least three more weeks in the hospital, AFP reported.

Her father, a 27-year-old journalist, was also severely injured in the explosion.

In the past four weeks, more than 1,050 Palestinians have died, according to Palestinian health organizations. UN figures show that most of the casualties are civilians: more than 230 children and around 120 women have died so far in Gaza.

TIME Middle East

Civilian Casualties in Gaza Slated to Rise as Israel, Hamas Intensify Fighting

Palestinians search for victims as people gather atop the remains of a house, which witnesses said was destroyed in an Israeli air strike, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on July 29, 2014.
Palestinians search for victims as people gather atop the remains of a house, which witnesses said was destroyed in an Israeli air strike, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on July 29, 2014. Ibraheem Abu Mustafa—Reuters

Any semblance of a possible ceasefire in the restive Palestinian coastal strip withered as fighting intensified throughout Monday night and into Tuesday morning

Chances of peace in the Gaza Strip looked very remote Tuesday morning, as Hamas militants penetrated Israel, and Israeli forces ratcheted up their military offensive in the Palestinian coastal territory.

Israeli aircraft, artillery and ground troops continued to pummel the conflict-ridden enclave after a raft of proposed humanitarian truces discussed over the weekend ahead of the Muslim holiday of Eid el-Fitr ultimately failed to take root.

Live feeds broadcasted online throughout Monday night and into the early hours of Tuesday provided outsiders with a glimpse of the grim reality of life inside the besieged territory, as Operation Protective Edge entered its third week. Drones hummed out of sight and illumination flares cast an eerie light over Gaza’s skyline, while explosions rumbled in the darkness.

“[Israel] did a very, intensive bombing campaign last night that most people in Gaza say was the worst night of this conflict so far,” Nathan Thrall, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group’s Middle East and North Africa Program, tells TIME.

On Tuesday, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) targeted the home of senior Hamas figure Ismail Haniyeh with aerial bombardments. The Al Shorouq building in central Gaza City, which is home to a television station affiliated with Hamas, was also hit with airstrikes. Despite the onslaught, the Hamas leadership struck a defiant tone.

“My house is not more valuable than the houses of other people, destroying stones will not break our determination,” said Haniyeh, according to a statement posted by his son on Facebook.

Earlier on Monday, Israeli media reported that Hamas forces succeeded in entering the country by way of an underground tunnel — the sixth such foray since hostilities erupted earlier this month. At least five Israeli soldiers and one militant were killed during the firefight that erupted near the site of the infiltration.

Following the attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took the airwaves to warn of a prolonged war with Hamas.

“Patience and determination are needed in order to continue the struggle against a murderous terrorist organization that aspires to our destruction,” he said.

“We will not complete the mission, we will not complete the operation, without neutralizing the tunnels, the sole purpose of which is the destruction of our civilians and the killing of our children.”

The Netanyahu Administration has pledged on myriad occasions to continue the ground offensive inside Gaza that began more than a week ago with the goal of dismantling a network of tunnels permeating Israel’s borders.

However, analysts say it’s unlikely the administration has any interest in deploying a full ground incursion in order to re-occupy dense urban areas of the Strip or upping their goals to include disarming Hamas.

“He’s limiting the scope of the operation, setting limited goals that are achievable so that he cannot be as easily accused of failure when it’s all over,” says Thrall.

But as the operation enters its 22nd day, the civilians of Gaza continue to bear the harshest burnt of the Israeli military operation.

The latest audit by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs put the kill count in Gaza at 1,065, a vast majority of which are believed to be civilians including hundreds of women and children. More than 50 Israeli have also died during the fighting, most of whom are soldiers.

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) reportedly began inundating at least three Gaza neighborhoods in the past 24 hours with leaflets warning thousands of residents to evacuate the area ahead of an approaching assault. In response, the U.N. warned Israel against continuing with an intensified push into residential areas.

“This would have a further devastating humanitarian impact on the beleaguered civilians of those areas of the Gaza Strip, who have already undergone immense suffering in recent days,” read a statement released by the spokesperson for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

“The United Nations agencies present in Gaza do not have the resources on the ground to cope with, or provide assistance to, an enormous extra influx of desperate people.”

The fighting to date has displaced an estimated 215,000 people in Gaza.

TIME

Israel-Hamas Conflict: Differences Over Calls to Demilitarize Gaza

A Palestinian man stands looking as flames engulf the fuel tanks of the only power plant supplying electricity to the Gaza Strip after it was hit by overnight Israeli shelling, on July 29, 2014, in the south of Gaza City.
A Palestinian man stands looking as flames engulf the fuel tanks of the only power plant supplying electricity to the Gaza Strip after it was hit by overnight Israeli shelling, on July 29, 2014, in the south of Gaza City. Mahmud Hams—AFP/Getty Images

The likelihood of a quick agreement between the two sides looks low

This deadly war between Hamas and Israel, the third in less than six years, has become what seems like a rather well-rehearsed play in the theater of the absurd. It involves Hamas launching rockets from Gaza, Israel striking Gaza with massive airpower—and sometimes artillery and ground troops—and after a horrific amount of bloodshed and destruction on both sides, the agreement of a cease-fire.

This time, however, a cease-fire looks far more complicated to achieve. One thing that has changed since the first two mini-wars, which ended in 2012 and 2009, is that Israel says it wants a demilitarization of the Gaza Strip as a requirement for reaching a cease-fire deal. In interviews in the last two days, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel wants Hamas and like-minded militant groups such as Islamic Jihad to give up their weapons in order for there to be what he calls “lasting quiet.” As he put it on NBC’s Meet the Press: “You have to have a mechanism to ensure demilitarization…You want money to go to the people of Gaza, not money for Hamas rockets and missiles.” Netanyahu also told U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon on Monday that the U.N.’s call for a cease-fire meets Hamas’ requirements, but not Israel’s.

The European Union’s foreign ministers last week also announced that they endorsed disarming all militant groups in the Gaza Strip. But demilitarization is a non-starter in Gaza City, and even in Ramallah, the seat of Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority, which says that any such move would have to be negotiated as part of a comprehensive peace plan. Talks aimed at reaching a wider Israeli-Palestinian peace deal broke off in April.

If the immediate goal is a cease-fire, Israel’s demands for demilitarization may move the goalposts a bit further away. But it is Hamas that upped the ante, says one of Netanyahu’s advisors, by launching rockets with longer ranges and more deadly potential. The Palestinian militant group also poured its resources into an extensive network of tunnels with which to attack Israel. In the latest of several attempts by Gaza militants to infiltrate Israel through one of these tunnels in the past week, five Palestinian gunmen appeared outside the Nahal Oz Kibbutz late Monday; Israeli troops opened fire and killed at least one of them, while the others are thought to have escaped back into Gaza.

“Since the previous Gaza conflicts, there has been a clear escalation in the type of weaponry Hamas and other organizations in the Gaza Strip have deployed, largely in terms of the range they’re able to reach with the rockets,” says Dore Gold, one of Netanyahu’s foreign policy advisors and the president of the Jerusalem Center for International Affairs. “If Israel were to just reach a standstill agreement for a cease-fire, based on what transpired before, in a very short amount of time there would be yet another qualitative improvement, and that would amount to improvements that pose an unacceptable threat to Israel.”

As far Netanyahu is concerned, what comes after a cease-fire is critical, Gold says. “In the last few years, international organizations and governments have pressured Israel to allow Gaza to import larger quantities of cement, so that houses can be built, new schools can be established, hospitals can be constructed. It turns out that this was used for attacks against Israeli targets,” Gold says. “Therefore the demilitarization agreement is needed to address this problem to ensure that Hamas doesn’t use this concrete to make tunnels.”

He gave a worst-case scenario from modern history. In the 1970s, the South Koreans discovered that the North Koreans had built a series of infiltration tunnels under the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between the two countries, with plans to use them for attacks. “These tunnels are not of that width or size, but the principle exists that with tunnels you could have 1,000 or 2,000 terrorists behind Israeli lines.” Moreover, he says, the 1993 Oslo Accords envisioned a demilitarized Palestinian state with light arms for police and security forces. “Twenty years ago, no one ever imagined rockets that could hit Tel Aviv would be embedded in a self-governed Palestinian entity.”

But it is difficult to fathom the al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, agreeing to lay down its weapons or decommission its rockets. In their view of the world, they are the only Palestinian resistance in the face of Israeli aggression that has led to some 1,085 deaths in Gaza since the conflict worsened some three weeks ago. Israel has lost 51 people, 48 of them soldiers.

“Hamas and the other Palestinian groups will not give their weapons away. This idea came up in 2005 with the ‘Road Map,’ which talked about destroying the infrastructure of terror, but it was never implemented,” says Mkhaimer Abusada, a Palestinian political scientist who studies Hamas at al-Azhar University in Gaza. “I don’t think that’s going to happen unless we are talking about specific issues, like the disarmament just of long-range rockets, or making Hamas stop digging tunnels between Gaza and Israel. That’s a very difficult task to do. Unless Israel can manage to do it in the course of the war, who’s going to do it? The U.N.? The Palestinian Authority?”

The PA stands to take on a bigger role in Gaza if the two sides can manage to get to a cease-fire deal. One possibility would be to bring back the PA’s security forces to the Gaza Strip—they were ousted by Hamas in 2007, when the militant group took control of the area following Palestinian infighting—and have them control the border with Israel. That might include some kind of small security zone, notes Abusada, ostensibly to prevent Hamas militants from getting near the border.

Meanwhile, the likelihood of getting the sides to agree soon looks low. Netanyahu addressed Israelis Monday night and told them to be prepared for a “protracted campaign,” one liable to outpace the 2009 “Operation Cast Lead” in scope – and, observers fear, in casualties.

TIME Middle East

Bloody Day in Gaza as Calls for Cease-Fire Intensify

Palestinian mourners cry at Gaza City's al-Shifa hospital after an explosion killed at least seven children in a public playground in the beachfront Shati refugee camp on July 28, 2014.
Palestinian mourners cry at al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City after an explosion killed at least seven children in a public playground in the beachfront Shati refugee camp on July 28, 2014 Mahmud Hams—AFP/Getty Images

Israel and Hamas point the finger at each other for an attack on a Gaza hospital that left at least 10 dead

Updated at 6:45 p.m. ET

The U.N. Security Council’s call for an immediate cease-fire between Israeli forces and Hamas failed to cease violence in Gaza on Monday, as two large attacks left over a dozen dead and scores wounded.

Israel and Hamas traded blame for explosions at al-Shifa Hospital and a nearby refugee camp in the Gaza Strip on Monday, which killed at least 10 children and left at least 30 people dead or wounded, NBC reports.

Hamas said the explosions were a “direct” strike by Israeli drones, while Israel said they were caused by failed militant rockets. “A short while ago Al-Shifa hospital was struck by a failed rocket attack launched by Gaza terror organizations,” the IDF said in a statement, adding that “there was no Israeli military activity in the area surrounding the hospital whatsoever. “

At least four people were also killed by a mortar shell in Eshkol, in Israel’s southern district close to the border with the Gaza Strip, the Jerusalem Post reports. At least six others were seriously injured.

The attacks came just hours after U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon echoed calls from the U.N. Security Council for an immediate cease-fire. “In the name of humanity, the violence must stop,” he said, according to the BBC.

Over 1,030 Palestinians have been killed, according to Palestinian health organizations, many of them children. A daily report for July 28 by the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that in just the past 24-hour period, 74 Palestinians had been killed. Israel says it has lost 43 soldiers and two civilians.

Ban called for an end to the violence out of respect for Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday commemorating the end of Ramadan. “It’s a matter of their political will,” he said. “They have to show their humanity as leaders, both Israeli and Palestinian.”

His statements follow the Security Council’s call for a “durable” truce that would stop the violence and lead to substantial talks. The Palestinian representative to the U.N., Riyad Mansour, said that didn’t go far enough, and he demanded a formal resolution calling for Israel to remove troops from Gaza.

Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Ron Prosor said the Security Council’s statement was slated toward the Palestinians by failing to mention Hamas and the recent rocket attacks, the BBC reports.

TIME Middle East

U.N. Security Council Calls for Unconditional Cease-Fire in Gaza

The international body agreed on a demand for an immediate truce in Gaza on Monday, following the resumption of fighting between Hamas and Israel

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The UN Security Council called for “an immediate and unconditional humanitarian cease-fire” in the Gaza Strip, along with the “the delivery of urgently needed assistance” to the residents of the conflict-riven coastal territory during an emergency meeting in the early hours of Monday morning.

The 15-member council’s call for all “parties to engage in efforts to achieve a durable and fully respected cease-fire” came as the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr commenced on Monday, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

The renewed push for an end to hostilities follows the collapse of a humanitarian agreement over the weekend after Hamas fired a salvo of rockets into Israel that was then followed by the renewed shelling of Gaza by Israeli forces.

There is little evidence to suggest that either side trusts the other enough to follow through with another deal, according to Lina Khatib, the director of the Carnegie Middle East Center. “Israel and Hamas both did not abide by the truce even though they said they agreed to it. The fighting that’s restarted by both sides is a sign that each of them was expecting the other to break the truce first,” she told TIME.

“There’s a dynamic of mistrust that has overwhelmed any desire to engage in truces on both sides.”

During an interview with CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed that his administration was not obliged to agree to another armistice that would allow Hamas “to rearm, and continue firing on our citizens.”

“We’ll determine what is important for our own security in the way that we can to protect our people, including working against these terror tunnels that they’re digging against us,” said Netanyahu. “That’s how we’ll act.”

At least 999 Palestinians have been killed and another 6,233 injured during the first 20 days of Israeli military’s offensive into Gaza, according to the latest tally by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Forty-six Israelis have been killed, including two civilians and one foreign national.

Hamas has rejected several cease-fire initiatives, including the U.S.-backed deal tabled by Cairo earlier this month, and said it will continue to do so until the Netanyahu Administration agrees to terminate its seven-year blockade of Gaza. In an exclusive interview with Charlie Rose that is set to air on Monday, Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal reiterated the organization’s position. “Life is a right for our people in Palestine,” said Meshaal. “This is a collective punishment. We need to lift the siege.”

Analysts explain that Hamas’s obstinacy reflects the group’s desire to remain a political mainstay in the Israeli-Palestinian equation, after joining a unity government with the Palestinian Authority earlier this year. “Hamas wants to prove that it can make demands and it can deliver results,” says Khatib. “So it’s important for its own credibility to show that it can make demands and see the results.”

TIME Middle East

Hamas Still Has Some Friends Left

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters at parliament in Ankara, Turkey, July 22, 2014.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters at parliament wearing a Palestinian keffiyeh, in Ankara, July 22, 2014. Burhan Ozbilici—AP

Though Egypt has turned its back on Hamas, other countries are coming in from the cold

With the fighting in Gaza intensifying daily, the ruling militant group Hamas is finding itself pushed to the limit. Trying to match Israel’s vast military might is an impossible task, and even finding the resources to launch rocket attacks against Israeli targets could only be achieved by heavy foreign investment.

But which country wants to invest in Hamas? The West certainly doesn’t. The militant Palestinian organization has been a firm fixture on the United States’ Foreign Terrorist Organizations list since 1997. Hamas’ only hope is its neighbors in the Arab world.

Hamas has two clear allies, according to Middle East experts: Qatar and Turkey. Both have given Hamas their public support and financial assistance estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

“Qatar also hosts Hamas’ political bureau which includes Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal,” says Shashank Joshi, Senior Research Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute. “Qatar has a long history of providing shelter to Islamist groups, amongst them the Muslim Brotherhood and the Taliban.”

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party, which came to power in 2002, supports what Joshi calls “other neo-Islamist allies.” Though the Turkish government explicitly rejects the label “Islamist”, their social conservatism is inspired by an Islamic ideology that Hamas shares. Last year, Meshaal visited Turkey and met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for several hours.

Both Qatar — one of the world’s richest states — and Turkey are powerful allies to have, but Hamas might wish for more support given the breadth of the Arab world. It once had it, too. Hamas used to be strongly allied with both Iran and Syria, with the former giving Hamas an estimated $13-15 million a month as recently as 2011, as well as long-range missiles. Hamas’ political bureau used to be based in the Syrian capital of Damascus before its move to Qatar in 2012.

But relations cooled dramatically with Iran and Syria amid sectarian divisions following the outbreak of the Syrian civil war. Iran, a Shia-majority country, backed the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad whose Alawite faith is a branch of Shia Islam. Hezbollah, a powerful Shia Islamist group based in Lebanon, also took Assad’s side.

However Hamas, a Sunni-led faction, sided, as most of the Arab world did, with the rebels. Cue Tehran cutting their allowance, Hezbollah allegedly ordering Hamas members out of Lebanon, and Hamas packing their bags for Qatar.

“Iran’s relationship with Hamas was always problematic,” says Chris Doyle, director of the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding. “Hamas is a Palestinian Sunni group and Iran is Shia. Nevertheless, Hamas was their entry into the issue of Palestine.”

Seeking to regain its influence over this issue, Iran has attempted to foster a reconciliation with Hamas over the last 18 months. Farwaz Gerges, professor on the Middle East at the London School of Economics says the conflict in Gaza is the reason. “The current crisis has brought a kind of rapprochement between Iranian leaders and Hamas.”

Hezbollah too, Gerges notes, has invited Hamas back into the fold. On Monday, the Hezbollah-owned television channel Al Manar reported that Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, praised Meshaal for “the persistence of the Hamas resistance.” The TV station added he “strongly supported their rightful demands to end the current battle.”

Gerges is quick to point out that this doesn’t signal “a return to the warm days of the Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas leaders.” However he adds: “Out of this particular crisis, a new realignment might happen.” That may sound like good news for Hamas, but there’s another Arab country that is of late vehemently opposed to it. That would be Egypt, the largest and most influential country in the Arab world and the one responsible for drafting a potential cease-fire.

From 2012 to 2013, Hamas enjoyed Egypt’s munificence under the leadership of former President Mohamed Morsi, a longtime member of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood of which Hamas is an offshoot. When Morsi was ousted last year and replaced with Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, Hamas knew the good times were over.

“The most devastating thing that has happened to Hamas is the ousting of Mohamed Morsi,” comments Gerges. Sisi, whose government has orchestrated a violent crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, destroyed Hamas’ tunnel network into Egypt and closed the border crossing at Rafah, devastating Hamas’ finances. The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, two of Egypt’s financial backers, are also hostile to Hamas. Like Egypt, they view the Muslim Brotherhood as a clear domestic threat — and Hamas is guilty by association.

But perhaps Hamas doesn’t need Egypt. As the death toll continues to rise in Gaza, there is a groundswell of public sympathy across the Arab world for the group.

“Hamas in terms of people on the street is at the height of its political power in every single Arab country with the exception of Egypt,” says Gerges. “The longer the conflict continues, the more they gain in popularity. And for Hamas, what really matters is the public pulse.”

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