On 7 July 2014, the Israeli army launched a large military operation in the Gaza Strip, codenamed “Protective Edge”, with the stated objective of stopping Palestinian rocket firing at southern Israel and destroying the military infrastructure of Hamas and other armed groups.
Indiscriminate rocket firing by armed groups from Gaza continues to target main Israeli population centres, resulting in at least seven injuries. No country should be expected to stand by while rocket attacks from a terrorist organization are launching into their country. The EU condemns rockets and recognizes Israel’s right to defend itself against missiles’ attacks and calls for proportionate reaction.
The latest escalation round started on early June, characterized by an intensification of Israeli airstrikes and Palestinian shooting rockets at southern Israel. Tensions further increased following the abduction of three Israeli youths in the southern West Bank, on 12 June, which the Israeli government attributed to Hamas.
The escalating conflict has posed a major challenge for the Obama administration two months after its efforts to pursue Middle East peace talks sputtered to a halt and Mr. Kerry said that the peace process would be paused. In a telephone call to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from China on Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry’s message was that the United States would try to help Israel fulfill its goal of stopping Hamas’s rocket fire without a ground assault.
This development marked the collapse of the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire understanding reached between Israel and Hamas in November 2012, which has been gradually undermined since December 2013. The cease-fire deal was reached only through a final American diplomatic push. The deal called for a 24-hour cooling-off period to be followed by talks aimed at resolving at least some of the longstanding grievances between the two sides.
As the Gaza emergency enters its fifth day, it is worth giving the cease-fire a chance to encourage peace. The civilian population in the Gaza Strip continues to bear the brunt of casualties: at least 70 per cent of the Palestinian fatalities (89 of 126) are believed to be civilians, of whom 30 per cent (27 of 89) are children, while nearly two thirds of all injuries (500 of 910) have been children and women.
These figures, along worrisome reports about the circumstances of some incidents, have raised concerns about the respect to the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution in attack under International Humanitarian Law.
Nearly 7,000 children whose homes were destroyed or damaged are believed to be at immediate need of psychosocial (PSS) support. PSS first-aid and training to caregivers/parents are a priority.
Four lines supplying electricity to Gaza, including one from Egypt and three from Israel have been damaged in the past 48 hours, leaving 75 per cent of Gaza City without power. While most repairs are expected to be completed today, these incidents exacerbate the impact of the longstanding electricity deficit affecting Gaza in recent years, which have disrupted the delivery of basic services and undermined livelihoods and living conditions.
Unexploded ordinance and explosive remnants of war present a major hazard to the population, particularly children, especially when they leave their places of shelter to search for their belongings among the rubble of their destroyed houses.
Egypt has historically resisted a broader opening of the crossing, and Israel enforces its embargo on the other sides of Gaza, fearing that it would face an influx of refugees or end up with responsibility for the impoverished enclave.
According to NY Times JULY 14, 2014 Egypt Presents Proposal to Israel and Hamas for a Cease-Fire in Air Attacks.
In a statement, Pierre Krähenbühl, the commissioner general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Gaza called on the Israeli Army to “put an end.” On Tuesday, the State Department issued a statement supporting the cease-fire efffort.
Egypt is widely considered the natural regional mediator in such conflicts. The Egyptians deserve the time and the space to be able to try to make this initiative work ones more, and international community hope it will. The international community will give its full backing to such an initiative.
Tony Blair, the special envoy of the quartet of Middle East peacemakers, which included the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia, welcomed the proposal in a statement.
Secretary Kerry has been deeply engaged in conversations with Prime Minister Netanyahu, Egyptian government officials and President Abbas throughout this difficult period,and the United States remains committed to working with regional partners to find a resolution to this dangerous and volatile situation.
We urge all parties to support this ceasefire, and we support and we ask all the members of the Arab community, as they did today at the Arab League meeting in Cairo, to continue to press to try to get Hamas to do the right thing, which is cease the violence, engage in a legitimate negotiation, and protect the lives of people that they seem all too willing to put to risk.