Making things a bit sticky for their Western apologists, Hamas didn’t wait long after the official end of the three-day cease-fire to resume firing rockets at Israeli civilian targets. Fox News reports:
At least one of the rockets fired from Gaza was intercepted by the Iron Dome system over the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon while two rockets fell in open areas without causing casualties or damage, The Associated Press reported.
Israel responded with a series of its own airstrikes, including one that killed a 10-year-old boy and wounded five children near a Gaza City mosque, Palestinian officials said. Two Israelis were wounded by rocket fire, police said.
The renewed violence threw the Cairo talks on a broader deal into doubt. Hamas officials said they are ready to continue talks, but Israel’s government spokesman said Israel will not negotiate under fire.
Hamas wants Israel to open Gaza’s borders, following a seven-year closure also enforced by Egypt, but Israel says it will only do so if the Islamic militants disarm or are prevented from re-arming. Hamas has insisted it will never give up its arms.
The wide gaps became clear at an all-night meeting between Egyptian and Palestinian negotiators that preceded the renewed fire. Hamas negotiators told The Associated Press that Israel rejected all of their demands.
Give us what we want, or we’ll keep trying to murder civilians. Not quite what Hamas sympathizers in the Western world told us to expect, but probably not much of a surprise to the Israelis. As the Fox report goes on to speculate, Hamas is so battered from Israel’s Operation Protective Edge that they see few strategic options except doubling down. They can’t stop until they’ve secured rewards for their aggression, or they’ll emerge from the conflict as abject losers.
By midday, 33 rockets had been fired. Twenty-six landed in Israel, three were intercepted and four fell short in Gaza, the army said.
The rockets appeared to have been an attempt by Hamas to exert pressure on Israel without triggering a major escalation. Smaller Gaza groups claimed responsibility, while there was no word from Hamas rocket squads.
However, Israel said it will not negotiate under such terms.
“When Hamas broke the cease-fire, when Hamas launched rockets and mortar shells at Israel, they broke the premise of the talks,” said Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev, adding that “there will not be negotiations under fire.”
The Israeli delegation to the Cairo talks left Egypt on Friday morning, and it was not clear if it would return.
The Israelis are not in any mood to let the latest round of Gaza violence end with a return to the status quo, a fragile peace that will end when Hamas has smuggled in enough weapons to launch new attacks.
Previous rounds of Israel-Hamas fighting ended inconclusively, setting the stage for the next confrontation because underlying problems were not resolved, particularly the stifling border closure of Gaza.
Israel and Egypt imposed the blockade after the Hamas takeover of Gaza in 2007, and have since enforced it to varying degrees.
The closure led to widespread hardship in the Mediterranean seaside territory, home to 1.8 million people. Movement in and out of Gaza is limited, the economy has ground to a standstill and unemployment is over 50 percent.
Here’s a thought: maybe if money, manpower, and construction materials weren’t diverted into digging tunnels and buying weapons – every one of which is a violation of international law even before Hamas sets it up next to a school and opens fire – things might feel a good deal less “stifling” in Gaza. Another Fox News piece today calculates that every one of the 32 terror tunnels destroyed by Israel required 350 truckloads of building supplies, and cost up to $3 million to build. (And that’s factoring in the significant discount for using expendable child labor to dig the tunnels.) Add in the cost of the 3,360 rockets fired at Israel, and you’ve got a lot of wasted resources that could have gone toward building something useful.
There’s not much in Gaza that Hamas hasn’t tried to weaponize. They allegedly even forced a Catholic archbishop to let them use his church as a rocket launching pad:
One can be forgiven for harboring some dark suspicions about what would become of money and materials flowing into Gaza, if Israel lifted its blockade.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sat for a lengthy interview with Sean Hannity on Thursday, in which he portrayed Hamas terrorism as part of a “brushfire” that will spread through the entire civilized world, if Hamas’ tactics are successful. “This is a danger I’ve been pointing to, it’s not a spin, it’s not a whim, it is a clinical diagnosis of a pathological movement that is sweeping our area but will soon come to a theater near you and it has to be stopped now,” said Netanyahu.
Netanyahu put the current conflict in the context of Twentieth Century “total war,” explaining that Israel has taken pains to avoid using tactics such as World War II-sytle carpet bombing. Refraining from such attacks, working to avoid civilian casualties, and even taking steps to warn Hamas’ human shields to clear the area before attacks are launched put Israel at a significant disadvantage against an enemy that deliberately attacks civilians. (If Hamas could carpet-bomb Tel Aviv, does anyone doubt they would do it?) As the Prime Minister says, it’s essential to make certain savage tactics are not rewarded at all, or both Israel and the rest of the civilized world will certainly see more of them.
It’s also essential to ensure Hamas’ tactics are exposed, something Netanyahu noted the media has not been very eager to do, in part because reporters on the ground in Gaza have good reason to fear violent reprisals if they don’t toe the terrorists’ media line. We all know that, so why do we give terrorists any control over our perception of events? Here’s an idea: how about if every major, reputable media organ announces it will withdraw from Gaza, for as long as coverage would be tainted by threats of violence from Hamas? That would deprive the terrorists of their theatrical resources. Tell them the cameras won’t go back on until they guarantee the safety of all journalists; until then, they can fight Israel in the dark, and read their press releases to brick walls.