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Washington: 2:14:11 am - July 28, 2014 - Jerusalem: 9:14:11 am - Av 1, 5774

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Gaza war rages despite Hamas, Israel truce pledges

An Israeli tank fires towards Gaza, near the Israel and Gaza border
in the morning of Sunday, July 27, 2014. (photo: Tsafrir Abayov/AP)

Israel and Hamas launched new attacks Sunday in the raging Gaza war, despite going back and forth over proposals for a temporary halt to nearly three weeks of fighting ahead of a major Muslim holiday.

The failure to reach even a brief humanitarian lull in the fighting illustrated the difficulties in securing a more permanent truce as the sides remain far apart on their terms.

After initially rejecting an Israeli offer Saturday for a 24-hour truce, Hamas said Sunday that it had agreed to hold fire ahead of the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. But as Israel's Cabinet met to discuss the offer and the ongoing war, rockets rained down on southern Israel and Israeli strikes could be heard in Gaza.

Israel rejects 24-hour timeout proposal as rocket fire continues

IDF Chief of Staff, Benny Gantz visits near the border with the Gaza Strip,
on July 26, 2014. (photo: Yehudah Gross/IDF Spokesperson/Flash90)

US Secretary of State John Kerry headed back home after Israel rejected his ceasefire proposal, and privately castigated his handling of the crisis. A humanitarian truce was unilaterally ended by Hamas on Saturday night, when it resumed rocket fire, though Israel had agreed to hold its fire for another 24 hours.

Hamas fires rockets after rejecting truce extension;
Israel said fuming at Kerry for ‘capitulating
to Hamas’ in ceasefire efforts

US Secretary of State John Kerry at a press conference in Cairo with
United Nations Chief Ban Ki-moon, on July 25, 2014. (photo: AFP/Pool)

Israel’s government on Friday unanimously rejected a ceasefire offer advanced by US Secretary of State John Kerry, with sources saying it was too tilted towards Hamas. However, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted a 12-hour truce from 8 a.m. Saturday, and ministers later extended it to midnight.

Israeli ministers, who on Friday unanimously rejected
US secretary’s offer, reported to describe him as ‘negligent,
incapable of handling the most basic matters’

Israeli government sources on Saturday night accused US Secretary of State John Kerry of “completely capitulating” to the demands of Hamas and its champion Qatar in drafting the Gaza war ceasefire proposal that Israeli ministers unanimously rejected on Friday.

The unnamed sources, quoted by Israel’s Channel 2 TV, said Kerry “dug a tunnel under the Egyptian ceasefire proposal” — which Israel accepted and Hamas rejected last week — and presented the Israeli government with a text that accepted “most of the demands” raised by Hamas, the Islamist terror group that rules the Strip.

To the “horror” of the Israeli ministers, the Kerry proposal accepted Hamas’s demands for the opening of border crossings into Gaza — where Israel and Egypt fear the import of weaponry; the construction of a seaport; and the creation of a post-conflict funding channel for Hamas from Qatar and other countries, according to the sources. The proposal, meanwhile, did not even provide for Israel to continue demolishing the Hamas network of “terror tunnels” dug under the Israeli border.

Rather than provoke an open diplomatic confrontation with the United States, the report said, the appalled ministers chose not to issue an official statement rejecting the Kerry terms. Instead, word of the decision was allowed to leak out.

‘Kerry told Hamas many of its demands
would be met under ceasefire deal’

US Secretary of State John Kerry informed Hamas via Qatar last week that under his proposal for a ceasefire with Israel, based on the original Egyptian initiative, the US would guarantee the fulfillment of many of Hamas’s demands for an end to the war, Palestinian sources told The Times of Israel on Saturday.

The guarantees promised to Hamas by Kerry under a ceasefire, as relayed to The Times of Israel by the Palestinian sources, pertain to the following issues: an easing of restrictions on the passage of goods from Israel to Gaza; an easing of restrictions on the passage of traders and businessmen from Gaza to Israel; expansion of the permitted Gaza fishing zone to 12 miles off the coast; the opening of the Rafah crossing with Egypt, to be manned by Palestinian Authority officials; and a promise to ensure the transfer of salaries to Gaza’s government employees.

Kerry made no promises on the issue of the Hamas demand for the release of prisoners, other than a pledge to discuss the matter. There was also no mention of the establishment of a seaport in Gaza, as demanded by Hamas.

'Kerry is seeking to reward a terrorist group'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shares a laugh with his
Turkish and Qatari counterparts on Saturday in Paris -
(photo: Reuters)

Senior Israeli officials: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry accepted the preconditions of Hamas. He took Hamas' proposal, via the Qataris, and made it the U.S. proposal. He is operating against the declared interests of the U.S. in the Middle East.

Ya'alon to Iron Dome troops:
Prepare for significant expansion of Gaza op

Ya'alon visiting troops at Iron Dome battery (photo: Ariel Hermoni, GPO)

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon visited an Iron Dome battery deployed in central Israel on Friday evening, telling the troops to be "ready for the possibility that we will instruct the IDF to significantly expand the ground offensive in Gaza very soon."

Ya'alon's comments came shortly before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to accept US secretary of State John Kerry's proposal of a 12-hour humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.

"At the end of this operation, Hamas will think carefully whether it was worth it to provoke us and whether it should provoke us in the future," said the defense minister, who got to watch a live interception of rockets fired at central Israel.

Live blog:
Israel's Operation Protective Edge in Gaza

Relatives and friends seen mourning at the funeral of Golani Brigade soldier Daniel Pomerantz who
was killed during fighting in Gaza on Sunday, in Kfar Azar, near Tel Aviv. (photo: Flash90)

Follow all the latest updates on Israel's efforts to extinguish rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.

Political Divisions Threaten
Kerry-Brokered Agreement in Afghanistan

A sniffer dog in Herat on Thursday checked ballot boxes to be flown to Kabul
as part of Afghanistan’s audit of last month’s presidential runoff election.

The political agreement between Afghanistan’s two rival presidential candidates brokered by Secretary of State John Kerry two weeks ago appeared in trouble on Friday as serious differences emerged between the camps.

The two candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, failed to reach agreement Friday on the technical details of the audit of the presidential runoff election held last month, although negotiations were continuing. And the deal to form a national unity government, whoever is declared the winner of the election, has met with resistance.

The idea of a unity government, long supported by Afghanistan’s minority groups, was introduced by Mr. Kerry as anger was growing among Mr. Abdullah’s supporters at perceived electoral fraud and as dangerous ethnic and regional divisions threatened to shatter Afghanistan’s fragile democratic process.


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