IDF Renews Strikes in Gaza After Hamas Rejects Ceasefire
The Israeli Air Force has renewed its strikes on terrorist positions in the Gaza Strip, following Hamas's refusal to accept an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire and escalation in rocket fire towards Israeli civilians.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon ordered the IDF to act with force against Hamas and Islamic Jihad positions within the Islamist-held territory.
Witnesses reported at least one strike in Gaza City and Nusseirat in central Gaza, and another in Khan Yunis, to the south, according to AFP.
"Hamas has fired 47 rockets since we suspended our strikes in Gaza at 9:00 am. As a result, we have resumed our operation against Hamas," the IDF said on its official Twitter account.
Military spokesman Lieutenant Peter Lerner echoed those statements on his own Twitter account.
"Following six hours of indiscriminate rocket fire at Israel, the IDF (army) has resumed operational activities against Hamas," he said.
Earlier Tuesday, the IDF denied reports circulated by Hamas's official website that an Israeli drone has attacked targets east of Gaza City.
According to the IDF, more than 40 rockets have been fired on Israel since 9:00 a.m. Tuesday, when an Egyptian-brokered truce was meant to come into effect. A direct hit was scored on a house in Ashdod but no one was injured. Two rockets were intercepted around 1:00 p.m. over the Shefelah coastal plain region.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu delivered a message to Hamas Tuesday in a press conference, according to which the IDF operation in Gaza will continue and be widened, unless Hamas stops firing at Israel.
"If Hamas rejects the ceasefire, we will have international legitimacy to restore the necessary quiet,” he said, some three hours after the hour set for the ceasefire passed, only to be followed by more rockets from Hamas.
"The goal of the operation was and remains to restore quiet while delivering a harsh blow to Hamas. We have hit them very hard and we foiled attempts to terrorize Israel's population. We heeded the Egyptian offer in order to give a chance to demilitarization of the Gaza Strip by diplomatic means. If Hamas rejects this – and it looks that way – Israel will have all the legitimacy to restore quiet,” he added.
Israel accepted the truce in a surprise move Tuesday morning, after Hamas categorically rejected the notion of a ceasefire Monday night.