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Monday, July 14, 2014

Updated: Egypt to announce ceasefire in Gaza, while the death toll rises due to Israeli military operation against Hamas

Israeli aerial strikes of Gaza
(Image: IBT)
Israeli military operation against Hamas continues in Gaza for the seventh day, leaving more than 185 people dead and more than 1350 people wounded, according to the reports of the UN workers in the area. Thousands of Gaza people remain displaced and are forced to flee their homes looking for shelter in the besieged enclave, cut from the outside world, as Palestinians from the Gaza Strip aren’t allowed to cross into territory of Israel, while Egyptian Rafah border crossing point remains closed after it was opened for several hours to receive injured people on Thursday.

Despite the world’s pressure and massive pro-Gaza rallies being held all over the world and attended not only by the Palestinians living abroad but also but the local residents of those countries and Jewish people as well, protesting against the policies of Israeli government and the current military operation affecting civilians.

Israel though continues its aerial strikes aiming to target Hamas military bases and facilities, rocket launchers and homes of the senior militant leaders. But these facilities are usually located by Hamas in the residential areas in order to protect the rockets from the potential destroying, actually using civilians as a human shield. Gaza cities are also densely populated, that’s why the Israeli aerial attacks appear to be so deadly, leaving dozens dead and hundreds of injured.

Israeli military ate the Gaza border
(Image: Haaretz)
Hamas in its turn continues to fire the rockets at the Israeli territory, targeting the major Israeli cities and reaching not only the Southern cities, as it used to happen before, but also Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv, Haifa and other cities as well, forcing the local residents to run to the shelters at any moment the sirens are heard in the area. Though Israeli Iron Dome anti-missile system, protecting the cities, intercepts up to 85% of the Hamas rockets, so the damages aren’t that big and there were no casualties reported among the Israeli citizens. Several people across the country were reported to be injured, most of them as a result of the blast at the gas station in the city of Ashdod, when the Hamas rocket hit it.

The situation in Gaza though remains terrible and deteriorates with every day, as the death toll has risen to more than 170 people and the number of the injured people is more than 1100 people, according to UN and the local Emergency Service and Health organizations. Nearly 70% of these casualties are civilians, as about 30% of them are children, state the report of UN.

Gaza hospitals are full of injured people and the doctor operate under the terrible circumstances and in the hard conditions of a total lack of medicine and security, as even hospitals suffer from the aerial strikes. Thus, a hospital for disabled people in Gaza was hit on Saturday by the Israeli rockets, killing two patients and injuring one nurse. Gaza’a Geriatric Hospital was hit several times on Sunday, causing terrible panic among the patients and the personnel, as there is no chance to evacuate the people. The manager of the hospital reported that the workers of different NGOs and human rights activists are staying at the hospital as a human shields, as they are foreign citizens, including the citizens of USA, France, Belgium and other countries.

Deployment of israeli military forces ready for Gaza ground
(Image: The Times of Israel)
With the deteriorating situation and total unwillingness of the both sides, official Israel and Hamas, to negotiate, to halt the violence and to try to find the solution, Israeli government and Armed Forces declare their readiness for the long operation in order to achieve the goals of the Israeli state and to eliminate the threat of Hamas. Hamas in its turn states it is ready to fight Israel.

Israel is also preparing for the ground offensive in Gaza Strip, as nearly 42 000 reservists and soldiers, most of the infantry and soldiers of artillery and tank forces, were deployed along the borders with Gaza.

Israel has reportedly started the limited ground operation in Gaza early on Sunday, as the battle between the Israeli soldiers and Hamas fighters left several Israeli soldiers injured.

On the eve of the possible ground offensive and of the massive aerial strikes of the particular targets in Gaza Israeli Armed Forces warned Palestinians living in Northern Gaza to evacuate and to leave their homes for the safer place, as the strikes are expected to be massive in that region. Hamas leadership in its turn called on the citizens to stay at home, as Israel only uses these warnings as a psychological warfare. Though despite that thousands of Palestinians from the Northern Gaza have left the area early on Sunday, heading to the UNRWA camps and shelters.

As the situation is extremely tense in Gaza and Israel, international powers continue their efforts to persuade the sides of the conflict to halt the violence and to start the talks. US Secretary of State John Kerry had the talk with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, supporting Israeli right to defend its country and its people but calling for restraint and for the ceasefire. 

Israeli aerial strikes in Gaza
(Image: Haaretz)
Egypt, that brokered the 2012 ceasefire deal, is also ready to mediate the new deal or the restoration of the 2012 agreement. Though Egypt remains not that active in the Israeli-Gaza crisis. Even the border crossing with Gaza, which is actually the only one possible exit for the Palestinians of Gaza, remains closed after it was open for several hours on 10 July. Several Egyptian political parties and activists staged the protest in Cairo on Sunday, demanding Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Egypt’s government to open the Rafah border crossing with Gaza permanently in order to support Palestinians.

The situation deteriorated also after Israel was hit by several rockets fired from Syrian and Lebanon, as IDF opened the fire in response. In addition to that there was an attempt to fire two rockets into the Israeli territory from Egyptian Sinai. Though the rocket attack was thwarted by Egypt.

Massive pro-Gaza rallies continue to be held all over the world, demanding halt of Israeli violence. Many members of Jewish communities in different countries also participate in the demonstrations protesting against the policies of Israel and massacring of Palestinians in Gaza. A pro-peace group of Jewish youth in Israel commemorated today the memory of the slain Gazans, many of whom are children, and reportedly called for the rallies to be held in Israeli cities.

World's powers continue their attempts to persuade the sides to negotiate the ceasfire. Thus, US Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to arrive in Cairo on Tuesday, 15 July, for the talks with Egyptian leadership in order to mediate and broker togather ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. An official delegation of Mr. Kerry has already arrived in Cairo on Monday and met with Egyptian Minister Of Defense Minitser, discussing the situation in Gaza and the ways to resolve it. 

German Foreign Minitser Frank-Walter Steinmeier arrived in Middle East as well and had several meetings with the representatives of the Israeli state and Palestine.

The representatives of the Arab League have held their meeting in Cairo as well.

Meanwhile, Egypt declares its proposal for the ceasefire in Gaza will be announced on Monday night and to take effect since Tuesday morning.