Israel-Gaza Attacks Continue As Truce Fails; Palestinians Warned To Flee Homes

Israel -Gaza conflic Israelis gather to look at the Gaza Strip from a hilltop near the southern town of Sderot July 15, 2014.  REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Twelve hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire agreement, Israel and Gaza continued exchanging fire Tuesday, killing the first Israeli civilian and bringing the death toll in Gaza to nearly 200.

Netanyahu met with his Security Cabinet Tuesday night to discuss the continuing escalation, but his position is clear: Israel “will significantly broaden our offensive against Hamas,” the premier said.

Since the resumption of airstrikes, the Israel Defense Force said it has hit more than 50 targets in Gaza and at least 76 rockets have been launched from the Hamas-ruled territory. The IDF has also expanded its call for residents in Gaza to evacuate their homes. According to reports from the ground, residents in Shjaeye and Zeitoun, two suburbs of Gaza City, have been warned to leave their homes. Another report said residents are receiving robo-calls telling them to leave areas of northern Gaza before Wednesday morning. 

Hamas says it was not made aware of a cease-fire agreement but rather saw a draft of the Egyptian proposal which was drawn up without its input.

Hamas spokesman Abu Zuhri said Tuesday: “What were all the sacrifices for if we can’t get our most basic conditions? They are very clear: We want the blockade of Gaza by the Israelis to be lifted, we want the hundreds of prisoners they have arrested to be freed … They know our conditions.”

The Egyptian cease-fire proposal made no mention of Israel’s occupation of Gaza but stated that “Crossings shall be opened and the passage of persons and goods through border crossings shall be facilitated once the security situation becomes stable on the ground.” This is not enough for Hamas, which considers the terms an insult.

Earlier on Tuesday, a 37-year-old Israeli man died  from shrapnel injuries sustained near the Erez Crossing with Gaza, bringing the death toll in Israel to one, on the seventh day of  “Operation Protective Edge.” The man was delivering food to Israeli soldiers when he was hit, a spokesman for the Israeli emergency services told AFP.

Netanyahu also fired Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon, a noted hard-liner in his coalition, Tuesday for publicly criticizing his decision to sign Egypt’s cease-fire agreement.

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department condemned Hamas for not ceasing rocket fire. "I cannot condemn strongly enough the actions of Hamas in so brazenly firing rockets in multiple numbers in the face of a goodwill effort to offer a ceasefire, in which Egypt and Israel worked together, that the international community strongly supports," Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement on Tuesday.

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