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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Updated: Israel accepted Egyptian ceasefire proposal and is expected to participate in the Gaza talks

IDF military strikes in Gaza
(Image: The Guardian)
After the previous ceasefire agreements between Israel and Hamas brokered by Egypt and USA failed Israeli Cabinet declared after its emergency meeting held on Friday, 1 August, that Israel finishes unilaterally its military operation in Gaza, withdrawing its ground troops from the besieged enclave and finalizing the operation aimed at the total destroying of the network of underground tunnels used by Hamas for smuggling and infiltrating Israeli territory.

Israeli military Operation Protective Edge, started on 7 July, continues for almost one month, bringing the death toll in both Gaza Strip and Israel higher with every day. International pressure is increasing on Israel, as the world powers, supporting the right of the Israeli state to defend itself and its citizens, strongly condemn usage of excessive force in Gaza Strip, as Israeli military strikes are killing Gaza civilian population and destroying totally Gaza infrastructure, bringing the tiny enclave with the population of over 1.8 Million people to the edge of the real humanitarian disaster and catastrophe, as Gaza face actually shortage of everything now: shortage of water and electricity supplies, shortage of food supplies, shortage of medicine supplies and total lack of security, as there is actually no safe place in Gaza anymore, because even the UN operated schools and refugee camps and hospitals are being attacked by the Israeli forces on a daily basis currently.

Residents of Gaza in the totally destroyed street
(Image: Haaretz)
The recent IDF bombing of several UN premises and schools and refugee camps, hosting tens of thousands of displaced and wounded people, left hundreds of dead and wounded and sparked outrage in UN, EU and US, blaming Israel for crossing the red line. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has addressed UN recently calling to recognize Gaza as a territory of disaster and to help with providing humanitarian aid.

UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pallay in her turn made a strong statement recently accusing Israeli officials and military forces of the alleged committing of the war crimes in Gaza and defying the international law and claimed those actions shouldn’t go unpunished, as Israel should be held accountable for those crimes. Thus, the bombing of the UN operated schools and premises in Gaza will be investigated by, UN, according to the officials.

Though despite all these accusations Israel continues its military operation claiming it has an international support of its cause. Israeli officials in their turn participated several times in the ceasefire talks, mediated by Egypt, UN and US, but each time the ceasefire agreement was reached, Hamas violated it striking the rockets and mortars into Israeli territory, and Israel resumed its military operation all the times.

IDF in Gaza Strip
(Image: Reuters)
Though despite the continuous military operation international powers continue their diplomatic pressure on Israel trying to persuade the sides to sat at the negotiations’ table and to find the peaceful solution of the terrible deepening crisis and to stop the war. Egypt as one of the strongest regional powers and a traditional mediator in the Palestinian-Israel talks is still ready to mediate the further talks, though the ceasefire plan and the Egyptian initiative remain the same it was proposed from the very beginning, according to the Egyptian authorities and the recent statements of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi. This ceasefire proposal though was totally rejected by the Hamas officials as it didn’t meet the demands of Hamas and didn’t demand withdrawal of Israel from Gaza and its de-occupation.

The next round of the ceasefire talks was expected to be held in Cairo, on Saturday, 2 August, and was expected to be attended by the official Israeli delegation, official Palestinian delegation and several members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad as well, though Israel has taken a decision to reject its participation in the Saturday talks due to the systematic violations of the previous agreements by Hamas and their intended “misleading” the international mediators, according to the official statement of the Israeli Cabinet. Israel though decided to unilaterally end the military operation in Gaza once all the underground tunnels and the military facilities of Hamas will be destroyed and eliminated, and safety and security could be guaranteed to the Israeli citizens. Thus, IDF started withdrawal of the majority of its ground forces from the besieged Gaza, continuing the aerial strikes aimed to finally destroy the tunnels. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared that all the options are on the table in order to restore security and that Israel starts withdrawal of its ground troops relying of the restored deterrence.

Though the aerial strikes continues, destroying the buildings and infrastructure of Gaza and killing more and more people on a daily basis. The UN premises and hospitals continue to come under the IDF attacks, including numerous refugees’ camps. The recent 24-hour long bombing of the city of Rafah brought the death toll to more than 140 people, most of whom were civilians, including children.

IDF strikes in Gaza
(Image: Haaretz)
Palestinian and Gaza authorities have declared that the death toll in Gaza has increased to more than 1800 people, as the numbers of the wounded people is more than 9000. The Sunday strikes of Israel left nearly 130 people dead and hundreds of injured as well. Most of the casualties are civilians, as each fourth killed person is a child, according to the medics’ estimations. The morgues of Gaza are filled with the bodies and there is no place to save them anymore, as even refrigerators and fridges for ice-cream and fruits are being used for these purposes. The people of Gaza are risking their lives going out and trying to bury their dead relatives due to the continuous shelling of the districts by the IDF forces. Gaza is experiencing the real tragedy and disaster.

In addition to that Palestinian authorities declared that nearly 5510 houses in Gaza were totally destroyed, as more than 30920 buildings and houses were partially destroyed, living tens of thousands of people displaced.

Israeli losses increased to 64 soldiers, after the allegedly kidnapped by Hamas IDF officer was declared to be dead. There are also 3 civilians dead since the beginning of the operation.

Meanwhile Israel has declared a seven-hour humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza to come into effect on Monday morning. 

UPDATE. After continuous fighting and ongoing military operation of IDF, Israeli Cabinet took a decision to accept Egyptian ceasefire proposal, offered three weeks ago. 72-hour ceasefire is expected to start since Tuesday morning and could be potentially extended. In addition to that Israeli and Palestinian officials are also expected to participate in the Cairo medited talks regarding the more peramnent truce and the future developments. IDF starts to withdraw its forces from the besieged Gaza Strip, sending the majority of the troops back to their usual dislocations. 

Thus, Hamas also accepted the Egyptian cdeasefire proposal, and there is a hope for some relief for the Palestinians living in Gaza and for the further talks in order to find a peaceful solution.

Meanwhile UN General Assembly gathers for an informal meeting regarding the Palestinian issue and the war in Gaza. UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay is expected to present her report about the current situation in Gaza and Israeli possible war crimes during the Gaza operation.