Gaza/Cairo, Israel and Hamas were today (Thursday) once again headed on a collision course, with the Jewish state claiming it favoured ”unconditional” extension of a 72-hour ceasefire and the Palestinian militant group denying any agreement on it, saying its “fingers are still on the trigger”.
However, an Israeli official quoted by Reuters news agency said Israel had expressed its readiness to extend the truce under its ”current terms” — without specifying what those were.
The ceasefire brought relief to millions on both sides — especially the Palestinians — after one month of fighting killed nearly 1,900 of them, three fourths of them civilians, and 67 Israelis — all but two of them soldiers.Israel has agreed to extend the ceasefire that brought a much needed pause in Israel’s deadly attacks on Gaza from air, land and sea, with the Hamas largely depending on their primitive arsenal of rockets, most of which were either intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome or fell in unpopulated areas.Israeli officials said the country had offered to extend the three-day ceasefire in Gaza which began on Tuesday.
But Hamas deputy leader Mussa Abu Marzuq, part of the Palestinian delegation taking part in Egypt-mediated talks in Cairo, denied that there was yet any agreement on the extension of the ceasefire“There is no agreement to extend the ceasefire,” he wrote on Twitter and Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri added that any news about the extension of the truce was unfounded.
Hamas also warned last night that it would resume its attacks on Israel unless Jerusalem accepted all Palestinian demands, first and foremost being the lifting of the siege and release of prisoners who were rearrested in the West Bank.
Also, the blockades erected by Israel in the occupied territories have over the years created appalling hardships for the people in Gaza. Until the regime change in Egypt the Gazans were able to procure all their essential commodities via a network of underground tunnels built by Hamas, but after the military took over it closed down most of them and in recent weeks destroyed several others.
Hamas official Izzat al-Risheq said, “We haven’t received a reply to our demands. Our fingers are still on the trigger.”Israel’s Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Benny Gantz, has said in televised remarks that should Hamas disrupt the calm, “we will not hesitate to continue to use our force wherever necessary and with whatever force necessary to ensure the security of Israeli citizens near and far.”
In his first comments since the 72-hour truce began, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Hamas for all of the civilian casualties, saying it had used civilians as human shields. This is denied both by Hamas, Gazans and independent observers who say that the merciless Israeli bombing and shelling of heavily populated areas could by no means be defended, and point to the large number of civilian deaths. Due to the blockades the inhabitants of what has been called the largest open air prison also have nowhere to run or hide.