Gaza ceasefire a bust, but Israel is making headway
Two quiet hours at the beginning of the much-needed humanitarian ceasefire passed before air raid sirens sounded
At the very end of the 24th day of the Israeli military’s offensive in the Gaza Strip, the United States and the United Nations indicated all parties and militant factions had agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire slated to begin at 08:00 local time (05:00 GMT) on August 1.
Two quiet hours at the beginning of the much-needed humanitarian ceasefire passed before air raid sirens sounded in the southern Israeli community of Karem Shalom – indicating incoming projectiles being fired from Gaza – followed by retaliatory Israeli artillery strikes on multiple positions, killing at least ten Palestinians.
Yet another ceasefire has ended without progress toward a longer lasting truceBrooklyn Middleton
This latest ceasefire attempt came after the Palestinian death toll had risen to at least 1,400 - a figure that includes both Palestinian civilians and militants – while the Israeli Defense Forces' death toll climbed to 61 with another three Israeli civilians killed.
Despite the fact that this latest ceasefire also spiraled into failure, it should not be completely ruled out that a de-escalation of violence could still occur; the primary reason for this assessment is that Israel is nearing the completion of its stated primary objective: According to Haaretz, 90 percent of the tunnels have been destroyed. Secondly, while Hamas leaders’ apparently icy relations with the Egyptian military that ousted its Muslim Brotherhood allies lessen Cairo’s influence on the militant group, the rising death toll and fact that Hamas has secured few major strategic victories has momentarily taken precedence over this it seems.
With that said, if Hamas achieves its long sought after goal of capturing an IDF soldier or if it infiltrates a southern Israeli community and carries out an attack, the possibility of a ceasefire in the coming days could diminish significantly.
Despite Hamas’ inevitable bellicose statements and vows to reject any ceasefire that falls short of completely lifting the blockade, it accepted this 72-hour ceasefire despite the stipulation that IDF troops would remain in Gaza and continue carrying out tunnel destruction operations.
Is Hamas now weakened?
Hamas’ acceptance of this stipulation, which one could assess was one of the key points leading to the rejection of the other ceasefires, is, in my mind, the most solid evidence to show Hamas is now weakened to the point where the group is ready to negotiate.
As the Israeli army continues working on destroying tunnels, diplomatic efforts for negotiations appear now to be actually involving the most important groups; despite the fact that days ago U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry attempted to broker a ceasefire without Egypt playing any significant role. This attempt was quickly rejected by Israel and lambasted by the Israeli press and it appears the U.S. now clearly recognizes any negotiations without Egypt will fail to bring any remotely sustainable results. During the truce, the U.S. State Department indicated that “Israeli and Palestinian delegations will immediately be going to Cairo for negotiations with the Government of Egypt, at the invitation of Egypt, aimed at reaching a durable cease-fire.”
While a longer-term ceasefire, one that will likely return to the November 2012 agreements, remains in the works, the increasingly dire unfolding humanitarian crisis in Gaza should also be addressed; medical supplies continue dwindling, with the Palestinian Authority reportedly refusing Israeli aid and hospitals completely overwhelmed with patients. The Israeli military field hospital at the Erez crossing has reportedly only seen the treatment of about 30 Palestinians, likely due to the fact that seeking care from an enemy in the middle of a war as well as Hamas’ public execution of 30 “Israeli collaborators” may have instilled legitimate fear into Palestinians desperately in need of medical care.
That said, now that yet another ceasefire has ended without progress toward a longer lasting truce, Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority should coordinate efforts to open the Rafah crossing for the evacuation of wounded Palestinian civilians with Palestinian Authority security forces deployed to the vicinity of the crossing. Opening Rafah for humanitarian purposes as quickly as possible could lead to a longer term arrangement with the PA manning the crossing - a bold diplomatic step toward empowering Abbas as well as a crucial humanitarian arrangement.
Brooklyn Middleton is an American Political and Security Risk Analyst reporting from Israel. Her work has appeared in Turkish and Israeli publications including The Times of Israel and Hürriyet Daily News. She has previously written about U.S. President Obama's policy in Syria as well as the emerging geopolitical threats Israel faces as it pursues its energy interests in the Eastern Mediterranean. She is currently researching Ayatollah Khomeini’s influence on Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant groups to complete her MA in Middle Eastern Studies. You can follow her on Twitter here: @BklynMiddleton.
50 Palestinians killed after collapse of truceHamas and Israel agreed to a Gaza ceasefire after heavy fighting that killed at least 1,361 Palestinians, most of them civilians Middle East
Gaza: Falling rockets and failing mediaSome journalists defend their journalistic bias toward Israel, but the truth will prevail Media
Palestinian journalist killed in Gaza airstrikeMany of his family members were also killed in the strike Print
Gaza ‘media bias’: BBC vs Channel 4News coverage is under the microscope as both Palestinian and Israeli groups slam ‘one-sided’ UK reports about ongoing conflict Television & Radio
Mads Gilbert: Gaza crisis is a ‘major defeat’ for humanityMads Gilbert, a Norwegian surgeon volunteering at a Gaza hospital, called the conflict a “major defeat for the development of humanity,” ... Reports
1800GMT: U.N. agencies condemn Israel’s assault on Gaza as Libya’s militias advanceSeveral U.N. agencies condemned Israel's assault on Gaza. Meanwhile in Libya, Shield Forces militias reached the capital of Tripoli. News Bulletins
Civilian casualties in Gaza ‘too high,’ Pentagon saysGaza officials say more than 1,370 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed in the battered enclave World News
Israel determined to destroy Gaza border tunnels: PMPrime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the destruction of tunnels will continue despite truce efforts News
Former Palestinian midfielder killed when bomb hits his Gaza homeNeighbors and medics who rushed to Zaqout’s apartment said he was killed on Wednesday while sleeping in his bed Middle East
British actor Russell Brand takes on Fox News hostBrand uploaded a video of him commenting on a 'debate' hosted by Fox News' Sean Hannity on Gaza Television & Radio
The reality show must go on: Big Brother Israel adds bomb shelterIsrael’s entertainment industry is also being affected by the escalation of violence in Gaza Entertainment
Egypt slams Iranian claims of delaying Gaza aidForeign ministry official cites short-notice as reason behind delay of issuing permits to cross border Middle East
Gaza: A stronger Hamas will be a good outcomeFollowing the events in Gaza from afar gives the impression that there is a war between two states, but is this the case? Middle East