Third Terror Group involved before Ceasefire

EVENING UPDATE – CEASEFIRE AGREED

Israel’s Security Cabinet agreed to a ceasefire late on Thursday, saying the IDF will cease airstrikes on the Gaza Strip immediately. However, should Hamas continue firing rockets into Israel, the IDF will resume its attacks on terrorist targets and the ceasefire will be cancelled.

Israeli media said Israel was accepting the truce on the basis that “quiet would be met by quiet.”

Ministers visit damaged building in Israel (photo: Gil Cohen-Magen / AFP)Ministers visit damaged building in Israel (photo: Gil Cohen-Magen / AFP)

Benjamin Netanyahu’s office confirmed the Security Cabinet’s approval of the ceasefire. A statement says the ministers agreed to:

“accept the Egyptian initiative for a mutual ceasefire without any conditions,
which will go into effect at an hour that will be determined later.”

An official from Hamas confirmed to Reuters that a “mutual and simultaneous” ceasefire with Israel has been agreed, due to begin at 2 am on Friday.

 

MORNING REPORT

After almost eight-and-a-half-hours of quiet, incoming rocket sirens sound in the communities of Nirim and Ein Hashlosha, near the Gaza border Thursday morning. These communities have repeatedly been targeted by mortar fire over the past eleven days. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Israeli man in bomb shelter cum synagogueIsraeli man in a bomb shelter cum synagogue (photo: AP / Heidi Levine)

A total of around 80 rockets and mortar bombs were fired toward Israel between 7 pm Wednesday and 7 am Thursday, with ten of them falling short and landing within the Gaza Strip. Things quietened down just after 1 am, before resuming later in the morning.

The IDF says it continued its strikes on Hamas’ extensive tunnel network.

Much of the international media coverage focuses on damage done by Israeli strikes against Hamas. But despite the low number of casualties, Hamas rockets are causing significant damage in Israel. This video report shows damage to a home in the Israeli city of Sderot which was hit by a rocket on Wednesday.

 

The Israelis say that more than 4,000 rockets have been fired at them in the current round of terrorism. One IDF soldier and eleven civilians have been killed and hundreds of people have been injured. According to Palestinian media, over 227 Palestinians have been killed and more than 1,500 have been injured.

The Abu Ali Mustapha Brigades claimed responsibility for Thursday’s rocket attack which broke the calm. They are a wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

This third group of terrorists bring a significant complication into the situation. If Hamas stops firing, other terrorists may well continue, putting Israel in an extremely difficult situation.

Meanwhile, Hamas fired an anti-tank missile at a bus that had been carrying Israeli soldiers north of the Gaza Strip. The IDF said the bus was empty when hit but one soldier was slightly injured.

On Wednesday France attempted to push a UN Security Council resolution calling for an end to hostilities, despite knowing it would be opposed by the United States. The US again indicated that it would use its veto, saying:

“We are focused on intensive diplomatic efforts underway to bring an end to the violence
and we will not support actions that we believe undermine 
efforts to de-escalate.”

France did not suggest any date for a vote on its resolution, and the draft text seems not to have been widely circulated among the 15 members of the council. That suggests it was simply an attempt to increase pressure on the US.

And reports suggest there is now ‘palpable tension’ between France and the United States. This could prompt more ill-feeling and affect other international policies.