International Calls for Cease-fire Intensify
France on Sunday called on Israel to show restraint in its military campaign in the Gaza Strip, where six days of air strikes have left 165 people dead.
"France calls for an immediate ceasefire," Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a television interview. "We condemn the Hamas rocket attacks against Israeli civilians, but we also call on Israel to show restraint in its response and in particular, to respect international law and to ensure that civilian casualties are avoided."
"France calls for an immediate ceasefire... to ensure that every side starts talking to each other to avoid an escalation that would be tragic for this part of the world," he added.
Israel reportedly offered Hamas a 40-hour cease-fire last week, sources said Sunday afternoon, which Hamas immediately rejected. It should be noted that not only has Hamas breached each cease-fire ever offered from Israel since rocket fire began in 2001, but also that they have reiterated repeatedly during the current hostilities that they have no interest in a cease-fire arrangement.
Israel, too, rejected a cease-fire over the weekend, saying nothing by a total cessation of rocket-fire against Israeli civilians would be deemed acceptable. Roughly 8,000 rockets have been fired on Israeli civilians since the 2005 Disengagement from Gaza
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu rejected the idea of waiting until the next round of rocket fire on Friday, a move Finance Minister Yair Lapid echoed Sunday morning.
"The Israeli government at this stage is not answering ceasefire efforts because we want to know first that we have taken away Hamas's desire to do this again in another year or six months," Lapid told IDF Radio Sunday. "That has not happened yet. When that happens, then we can talk."
Despite this, the international community has been wholeheartedly interested in a cease-fire, despite the disinterest from both sides.
Since Operation Protective Edge was launched last week, the US called for 'restraint' and offered to broker talks; several European nations have been rumored to be involved in cease-fire negotiations with Egypt, despite earlier expressions of support.
The United Nations Security Council has also called for "restraint" and the resumption of peace talks as of Sunday morning.
'Restraint' - or suicide?
Several Arab countries, including Turkey and Egypt, have used the opportunity to attack Israel for "war crimes" and "oppression" against the Palestinian Arab people; Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan even accused the IDF of "lies" after lamenting that the rocket fire has caused no deaths on the Israeli side.
(Editor's note: This is a misnomer. Israeli news sites reported late last week that there was one death since the operation started, after an elderly woman was trampled in Haifa while attempting to enter a bomb shelter.)
South Africa, not to be outdone, further compared the operation to protect the 3.5 million civilians estimated to be within rocket range to the actions of Nazi Germany, claiming the IAF strikes "turned Gaza into a death camp."
United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner Navi Pillay further added fuel to the fire, preaching peace while lambasting Israel's rights to self-defense.
"We have received deeply disturbing reports that many of the civilian casualties, including of children, occurred as a result of strikes on homes," Pillay stated. "Such reports raise serious doubt about whether the Israeli strikes have been in accordance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law."
A spokesperson for the UN added that, despite the fact that Hamas is deliberately using human shields, there is no 'legitimate' reason to strike homes in Gaza - terrorists or not.
"Buildings that are ordinarily used for civilian purposes, such as homes, are presumed not to be legitimate military targets," said spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani. "Even when a home is identified as being used for military purposes, any attack must be proportionate... and precautions must be taken to protect civilians."
It should be noted that a Hamas spokesperson called for Gaza residents to act as human shields on live television earlier this week, calling the move "an effective strategy" in the PR war against Israel and encouraging Palestinian Arabs to stay in their homes despite IDF warnings to prevent casualties.
The international community has remained silent over the strategy, however, despite the fact that the Hamas-Fatah unity government in the Palestinian Authority joined several international agencies and human rights groups earlier this year.