Israel Resumes Rocket Attacks After Hamas Rejects Cease-Fire Proposal

| by Jared Keever

Israel resumed airstrikes on the Gaza Strip Tuesday after Hamas militants rejected an Egypt-backed cease-fire proposal, Israeli officials said.

Israel tentatively agreed to the truce and adhered to the cease-fire for about six hours Tuesday morning. But Israel Defense Forces officials told CNN that Hamas fired 47 rockets into the country during that time. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised that the rocket attacks would resume if Hamas didn’t halt their own attacks.

"If Hamas rejects the Egyptian proposal and the rocket fire from Gaza does not cease, and that appears to be the case, we are prepared to continue and intensify our operation," he said in a statement quoted by Fox News.

Military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, confirmed later Tuesday that the military had "resumed operational activities.”

The political wing of Hamas reportedly accepted the terms of the stand-down, but the armed wing of the Palestinian group said the Egyptian proposal "wasn't worth the ink it was written with.”

Although Egypt was able to step in and help negotiate a brief peace between Israelis and Palestinians during hostilities in 2012, the outright rejection of the proposal by Hamas this time suggests that ceasing hostilities will be much more difficult.

The Associated Press reports that part of the problem is Hamas leaders don’t trust the current rulers of Egypt who have tightened a border blockade on Gaza. Easing that blockade is key to Gaza’s survival, Hamas leaders argue. 

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has signaled recently that he believes Egyptian intervention in the crisis is key to getting the violence stopped. He recently cancelled plans for a trip to the region to see if Egypt could assert itself as a leader in peace negotiations. 

“The Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire and negotiations provides an opportunity to end the violence and restore calm,” Kerry said Tuesday. “We welcome the Israeli Cabinet's decision to accept it. We urge all other parties to accept the proposal.”

"I cannot condemn strongly enough the actions of Hamas," Kerry told reporters in Vienna, Austria, speaking of the continued rocket attacks.

Health officials in Gaza say 185 people have been killed by the Israeli rocket attacks that began July 8. More than 1,000 people have been seriously wounded, many of them civilians, they said.

Sources: CNN, Fox News, The Associated Press