Gazan children in the morgue slaughtered by Jewish military 2014. APA images

Hamas rejects Egyptian-led peace deal

Considering al-Sisi’s well-known hatred for the Muslim Brotherhood (and his draconian tactics against members) and it’s offshoot Hamas, there was never any realistic prospect for Egypt to be the broker in any agreement. There is too much bad blood and he is enjoying seeing Hamas members arrested, their houses turned to rubble and their families murdered by the Jewish military state. In addition, nothing substantial was contained in the proposed agreement, by design.

14 July, 2014 Middle East Eye
The Egyptian peace deal falls apart just hours after reports emerged that a de-escalation could be on the cards

Hamas has rejected an Egyptian-backed ceasefire, saying that they will only end the fighting after a political deal is reached.

Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri made the statement late Monday, following widespread reports that Hamas and Israel were both seriously considering the Egyptian proposal laid out earlier in the day.

Prior to Zuhri’s announcement, a deal to end the fighting in Gaza between Hamas and Israel appeared close with both sides reportedly mulling over an Egyptian plan that called for a period of “de-escalated” by 09.00 GMT Tuesday and for a full ceasefire to by 18.00 GMT.

There has as yet been no official reaction from the Israeli side, although prior to Hamas’ rejection there were media reports that the cabinet would discuss the Egyptian proposal at a cabinet security meeting on Tuesday.

Under the terms of the deal, Israel would have had to stop aerial, naval and ground operations against Gaza while promising not to launch a ground offensive or harm any further civilians, as per the text of a proposal put forward by Egypt’s Foreign Ministry.

However, Hama’s top representative in Lebanon Osama Hamdan, told CNN Arabic that the terms offered were not enough and that Hamas was determined to achieve more than this.

A few days into the fighting, Hamas issued four clear objectives for ending the fighting. Shortly before the deal was rejected, senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh appeared on television sounding determined.

“The Gaza blockade must be lifted so that our people live in freedom like all other peoples around the world,” Haniyeh said in a televised speech aired on the pro-Hamas al-Aqsa TV, which he used to call for an end to the years-long Israeli blockade of Gaza.

A senior Hamas official told the Middle East Eye over the weekend that the group would no longer accept Egypt as a negotiator.

The official said Hamas will only consider Turkey or Qatar as potential go-betweens with Israel, a move that was seen as a departure from previous mediations where Egypt has played a vital negotiating role. Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi had originally claimed he wanted to negotiate a truce, but he angered many Palestinians by keeping the Rafah border crossing largely closed.

However, there is still hope for a revived plan involving the Egyptians with US Secretary of State John Kerry due to arrive in Cairo tomorrow where he is expected to push for a diplomatic solution to the crisis. Kerry is then expected to fly on to Qatar, a Western ally but one that maintains close relations with Hamas, Egyptian media reported.

The White House also stepped up its rhetoric. While it continued to defend Israel’s “right” and “responsability” to defend its citizens, but spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters that, “Nobody wants to see a ground invasion because that would put more civilians at risk”.

An Arab League meeting about the crisis is also scheduled to take place in Cairo tomorrow. An Egyptian foreign ministry official told AFP that the meet was “aimed at finding a solution to stop the shedding of Palestinian civilians’ blood and to formulate a common Arab stance on the issue”.

More than 180 Palestinians have been killed and 1,385 injured since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge against Gaza exactly a week ago.

Early on Tuesday evening, as Operation Protective Edge entered its second week, Israeli air strikes and rocket continued to strike Gaza even while reports of the ceasefire began to emerge.

Hamas rockets also continued to fly toward Israel where they have largely caused minor injuries and damage. Monday evening saw the most serious incident of the week-long conflict so far with two sisters – aged 10 and 13 – being hospitalised following a rocket attack. The younger sister, 10-year-old Maram Wakili remains in critical condition.

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