Cease-fire in Gaza ends, Israeli campaign goes on
GAZA CITY — A humanitarian cease-fire declared by Israel has expired and the campaign in Gaza is continuing, according to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
He said Israel is nearly finished with its operation to destroy Hamas’ network of tunnels, but “this operation will end only when quiet and security are restored to the citizens of Israel for a lengthy period.”
Netanyahu said the Israel Defense Forces “struck a very severe blow at Hamas and the other terrorist organizations. We have no intention of attacking the residents of Gaza.”
During the cease-fire, the IDF continued to operate in the areas around Rafah, but residents of other parts of Gaza flooded the streets to pick up supplies and check on their abandoned homes.
Al Saha, the largest open-air market in Gaza, was bustling with vendors. One man hung clothes for sale from the burnt-out carcass of a bus struck a few days ago by Israeli fire power. Cars jammed Gaza’s main road, but the atmosphere appeared relaxed and children played in the street.
Two minutes into the cease-fire, Israeli forces carried out a strike on a house in a refugee camp in Gaza City, according to Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Ashraf el-Qedra. The strike killed an 8-year-old girl and wounded around 30 people, most of them children, he said.
Israel said that strike did not violate the cease-fire, because the operation had already been in progress.
During the cease-fire, which Hamas did not agree to, at least three rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel. All three rockets landed in open areas.
Daniel Mansour, a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative in charge of intelligence-gathering in northern Gaza, was targeted and killed before the cease-fire Monday, the IDF said. He had participated in directing rocket attacks toward Israel, the IDF said.
Two attacks in Jerusalem
Police in Jerusalem said they foiled what they descrbied as a terror attack when they shot and killed the driver of an earthmover after it overturned a passenger bus.
Police said one pedestrian was also killed and the bus driver was injured. There were no passengers on the bus at the time, police said.
The driver of the earthmover was identified as Mohammed Jaabis, a Palestinian from East Jerusalem.
Footage broadcast by Israel’s Channel 10 showed the earthmover still moving as security forces approached. It appeared to show shots being fired.
The incident happened in the Sheikh Jarrah area of central Jerusalem, near the entrance to a Jewish orthodox neighborhood.
Hamas praised the attack and said it was “a natural reaction to the Israeli crimes against civilians” in Gaza.
In another incident, a man on a motorbike opened fire at an Israeli soldier near Hebrew University, Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. Rescue workers said the Israeli was severely wounded.
An eyewitness on Israel Channel 10 said he heard a gunshot and saw “a soldier holding his chest. He walked a few steps backwards and collapsed.”
International condemnation of Israel and Hamas
France is the latest country to condemn the Gaza operation and strikes on U.N.-run shelters in Gaza.
“How many deaths will it take to stop what has to be called the carnage in Gaza?” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius asked in a statement. He said while Israel has a right to total security, “this right does not justify the killing of children and the slaughter of civilians.” He also said Hamas carries an overwhelming responsibility in this “macabre gearing which particularly serves extremism.”
To date, 1,856 people have been killed in Gaza, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. Israeli officials have said 64 Israeli soldiers and three civilians in Israel have died.
On Sunday, the United States and the United Nations used the strongest language yet in condemning the strike on a U.N.-run shelter in Gaza, with Washington calling the attack “disgraceful.”
At least nine people at the school, which was being used as a shelter for about 3,000 people, were killed in the shelling.
Israel said it is carefully reviewing the attack.
“No ordinance fell inside the school” Netanyahu spokesman Regev said. “What happened yesterday we’re reviewing very carefully.”
The IDF said it targeted three Palestinian Islamic Jihad members riding a motorcycle in the vicinity of the school, but didn’t say if the suspected militants were hit.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a written statement that the attack was “yet another gross violation of international humanitarian law.”
He demanded a swift investigation into the attack, in which there was an explosion just outside the main gate of the school. He called it a “moral outrage and a criminal act.”
The United States, in a statement issued by the State Department, said it was “appalled.”
“We once again stress that Israel must do more to meet its own standards and avoid civilian casualties,” spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a written statement. “The suspicion that militants are operating nearby does not justify strikes that put at risk the lives of so many innocent civilians.”
What’s next for Gaza?
Ambassador Riyad Mansour, Palestinian permanent observer to the U.N., praised the U.S. and U.N. condemnation of the strike near a U.N. school.
“We appreciate the strong statement yesterday from the U.S. administration and from the secretary-general about the crime committed against the U.N. school in Rafah,” he said.
“We cannot go back to the status quo” in Gaza, Mansour said. “Let’s move in the direction of lifting the blockade, give people of Gaza hope.”Mansour said he hopes Israel will soon decide to show up for negotiations in Cairo, Egypt. A Palestinian delegation arrived in Cairo over the weekend, the Egyptian state-run news agency MENA reported.
The delegation included representatives of Fatah and Palestinian intelligence, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the report said.
Israel is not sending a delegation to Cairo, said Paul Hirschson, a spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry.