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Middle East

Netanyahu says Hamas 'violating its own ceasefire'

© Mahmud Hams, AFP | Israeli bomardment hits Gaza on Sunday.

Video by Sanam SHANTYAEI

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-07-28

Israel and Hamas have resumed fighting despite tentative offers to extend a humanitarian truce since the end of an initial 12-hour temporary ceasefire on Saturday.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday accused Hamas of violating a ceasefire that it had itself called and vowed that Israeli operations in Gaza would continue.

"They are violating their own ceasefire. Under these circumstances, Israel will do what it must do to defend its people," Netanyahu told the news network CNN.

Earlier, the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas agreed to halt firing from 11:00 GMT in response to a request from the United Nations.

Speaking to FRANCE 24 from Gaza City, journalist Jesse Rosenfeld said a Hamas spokesman had told him that the movement had accepted the latest truce specifically because it had been brought to them by the UN, which had not been the case before.

However, exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said his group could not coexist with Israel as long as it occupied Palestinian land.

"We are not actually fighting the Jews because they are Jews," he said in remarks broadcast Sunday. "We fight the occupiers.

"I'm ready to coexist with the Jews, with the Christians and the Arabs and non-Arabs," he said. "However, I do not coexist with the occupiers."

FRANCE 24's Gallagher Fenwick reports from Jerusalem

On Saturday night, Israel endorsed a separate ceasefire plan promoted by Egypt that has not been accepted by Hamas, but Netanyahu was dismissive about Sunday's latest UN truce call.

Netanyahu told CNN that Israeli forces would continue operations to attempt to dismantle Hamas' cross-border tunnel network and destroy its stocks of rockets.

"Israel is doing what any other country would do and the US would do if any percent of your country were under fire and you have 60 or 90 seconds to get to a bomb shelter.

"I would say we want to stop firing rockets for sure. We want to dismantle the tunnels, the terror tunnel network we uncovered," he said. " I don't know if we'll have 100 percent success. Our soldiers are dealing with it now."

Rosenfeld said bombardment by Israel's air force and navy was continuing on Sunday afternoon. "It seems there is no more ceasefire," he said from Gaza City.

Conditions for truce

FRANCE 24's Jerusalem correspondent Gallagher Fenwick remarked that recent diplomatic efforts to bring an end to the latest fighting, which has left more than 1,000 people dead after 19 days, had failed to include the main actors in the confrontation.

"There were no Egyptians, no Palestinians, and no Israelis" at Saturday's meeting of international foreign ministers on the Gaza crisis in Paris, he said.

The Israeli newspaper "Haaretz" has leaked the latest ceasefire proposal, drafted by US Secretary of State John Kerry in Paris. "Many Israeli papers are condemning it, saying Kerry has turned its back on Israeli demands and acceded to Hamas's," Fenwick reported.

Jesse Rosenfled reports from Gaza City

On the Hamas side, tactical considerations may have dictated the preference for the terms of the UN-sponsored proposal of a daytime truce.

"This would allow people to get out, resupply, let out some steam and hunker down again" during the day, said Jesse Rosenfeld in Gaza.

"The fact is that Hamas has been striking far more Israeli casualties at night," he added. "It is more beneficial to them to have ceasefires during the day, than it is during the night when they carry out a far more intense guerilla campaign."

The Israeli army on Sunday confirmed firing a mortar round into a Gaza UN shelter where 15 people died on Thursday, but denied killing anyone at the site.

Briefing journalists on the findings of an internal military enquiry into the incident at a UN school in Beit Hanun, spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner said militants "in the vicinity" of the school fired mortar rounds and anti-tank rockets at Israeli forces.

The army responded with mortar fire, sending a stray round into the compound.

"A single errant mortar (round) landed in the courtyard of the school," he said. "The courtyard was completely empty" at the time of the incident, he added.

"We reject the claims that were made by various officials immediately following the incident that people were killed in the school premises as a result of (Israeli army) operational activity," he added.

Gaza emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said 15 people died in the blast and at least another 200 people were injured.

"Many have been killed -- including women and children," UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement, adding that he was "appalled".

Lerner suggested the victims may have been hit in fighting raging elsewhere and "brought to the compound after injury" for first aid or shelter.


Date created : 2014-07-27


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