1. The ceasefire proposed by Egypt and accepted by Israel was rejected by Hamas. During July 15, 2014, rocket and mortar shell fire attacking Israel increased (125 rocket hits on July 15). One Israeli civilian died after being hit by mortar shell shrapnel. In response the IDF resumed attacking terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip from the air. The Israeli prime minister declared Israel had no choice but to intensify the campaign until a significant blow to Hamas had restored quiet to Israeli civilians.
Hamas Rejects the Ceasefire
2. The ceasefire proposed by Egypt and agreed to by the Israeli Security Cabinet began on July 15, 2014, at 0900 hours (0600 hours GMT). It was strongly rejected by Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip. Approximately two hours after the ceasefire was supposed to begin Hamas and the other terrorist organizations began firing massive barrages of rocket and mortar shells into Israeli territory. After several hours of unabated rocket fire the IDF resumed attacking terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip.
3. As to the terrorist organizations’ rejection of the ceasefire, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu said that Hamas had chosen to continue its campaign and would pay the price for its decision. He said that when there was no ceasefire, Israel’s response was fire. He said Israel would fight on the operational front, the diplomatic front, and the home front. Israel would fight on all three with due consideration, he said, to provide the State of Israel and the IDF with the greatest freedom of action. He said Hamas left Israel no choice but to expand and intensify its campaign until it achieved its goal of restoring quiet to the citizens of Israel by dealing a significant blow to the terrorist organizations (Prime minister’s website, July 15, 2014).
4. American Secretary of State John Kerry said “I cannot condemn strongly enough the actions of Hamas in so brazenly firing rockets in multiple numbers in the face of a goodwill effort to operate a cease-fire,” and said that “Israel has right to defend itself.” He accused Hamas of “purposefully trying to play politics in order to gain greater followers…and use the innocent lives of civilians” as human shields (Website of the State Department, July 15, 2014).
Israeli Civilian Killed
5. At around noon on July 15, 2014, an Israeli civilian was killed by a mortar shell hit near the Erez crossing. Note: In addition to the intensive rockets barrages fired in Operation Protective Edge, there has been massive mortar shell fire at Israeli targets close to the Gaza Strip.
6. The victim was Dror Hanin, 37, married and father of three, who went to the Erez crossing to bring food for the IDF soldiers stationed there. He was critically wounded by fragments of a mortar shell and died on the way to the hospital. He was the first Israeli killed as a direct result of Operation Protective Edge (an elderly woman apparently died of a heart attack while running to a shelter).
Attacks on Terrorist Targets in the Gaza Strip
7. The IDF continued attacking terrorist targets from the air. More than 1,750 terrorist targets have been attacked since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, among them 768 rocket launchers, 427 terrorist headquarters, approximately 210 terrorist tunnels, 66 locations for the manufacture of weapons and many additional terrorist targets (IDF Spokesman, July 16, 2014).
8. In response to the continual, increasing rocket and mortar shell fire attacking Israel from the Gaza Strip, and after the Security Cabinet had announced its acceptance of the ceasefire, on the afternoon of July 15, 2014, the IDF resumed its air attacks on terrorist targets. During the past 24 hours more than 100 terrorist targets were attacked, among them the following (IDF Spokesman, July 16, 2014):
1) On the night of July 15, 2014, the IDF attacked 39 terrorist targets, among them four targeted attacks on terrorist operatives and attacks on the operational facilities used as bases for terrorist activity, and also related to senior Hamas operatives.
2) On the afternoon of July 15, 2014, the IDF attacked approximately 30 terrorist targets, among them concealed rocket launchers, terrorist tunnels, a weapons cache, focal points of terrorist activities and the operational facility of a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorist operative, and a terrorist operative who was in the final stages of preparing to launch rockets into Israeli territory.
3) The Israeli navy attacked terrorist targets along the Gaza Strip shore.
The Gazan Population
9. The Palestinian media and ministry of health reported that 197 Gazans had been killed since the beginning of the operation, and 1,485 had been wounded.
10. During the night of July 15, 2014, the IDF dropped flyers for the residents of Sajaiya and Zeitoun on the eastern outskirts of Gaza City, and for the residents of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip. The residents were asked to vacate their houses for their own safety and to move to the central region of Gaza City by the morning of July 16, 2014, and not to return until further notice. That was because the IDF was planning a significant airstrike against terrorist targets in the area (IDF Spokesman, July 16, 2014). According to the Palestinian media, as of the morning of July 16, 2014, the request was not generally heeded and many people stayed in their houses.
11. A spokesman for Hamas’ ministry of the interior said that Israel had failed to exert pressure on the Gazan population with its flyers demanding they vacate their houses. He said that the ministry would continue performing its functions although, he claimed, 35 of its buildings had been destroyed (Radio Sawt al-Aqsa, July 15, 2014).
12. The UNRWA representative in the Gaza Strip said at a briefing about the situation in the Gaza Strip UNRWA needed one million dollars immediately and that it was working, along with the UN’s World Food Programme, to provide food for the Palestinians in UNRWA shelters in the Gaza Strip. He said he was afraid that an Israeli ground operation would displace an additional 50,000 people who would seek shelter, but the agency, he said, could only cope with 35,000 people (UNRWA website, July 15, 2014).
13. Despite the proposed Egyptian ceasefire, massive rocket and mortar shell barrages continue to be fired into Israeli territor y. So far 1,065 rocket hits have been identified. The Iron Dome aerial defense system has intercepted 176 rockets targeting population centers throughout the country.
14. During the past 24 hours, after the Egyptian announcement of a ceasefire, rocket and mortar shell fire into Israeli territory intensified, and 125 rocket hits were identified. The man events were the following:
1) On July 15, 2014, approximately two hours after Israel announced its ceasefire had gone into effect, a barrage of rockets was fired from the Gaza Strip targeting Ashqelon, Ashdod, Sderot, Kiryat Malachi and other southern population centers. One rocket fell close to a house in Ashdod and damaged it. At least eight of the rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome aerial defense system.
2) About one hour later the range of the rockets was increased and sirens were heard on the outskirts of Haifa, in Yokneam, Zichron Yaakov, and Daliat al-Carmel on the Mt. Carmel ridge.
3) At 1900 hours on July 15, 2014, a barrage of rockets was fired at the greater Tel Aviv area and the coastal plain. A school for children with special needs in Rishon Letzion was hit.
15. The military-terrorist wings of Hamas and the PIJ continued to claim responsibility for most of the rocket and mortar shell fire during the past 24 hours. Responsibility was also claimed by the military-terrorist wings of the PFLP, the DFLP and the Popular Resistance Committees. Local networks claimed responsibility for firing at populated areas around the Gaza Strip.
16. Ziyad Nakhaleh, deputy secretary general of the PIJ, said that for the first time a joint operation had been carried out by the military wings of his organization and Hamas. He said it was an important step forward and had involved the launching of long-range rockets to Tel Aviv. He said he hoped that more joint operations would be carried out (Al-Mayadeen TV, Lebanon, July 15, 2014).
Activity on Other Fronts
Rocket Fire from Lebanon
17. In the wake of the rocket fire from Lebanon (eight rockets have been fired since the beginning of the operation), the Lebanese army and security services, in conjunction with UNIFIL forces and residents on the villages in south Lebanon, have deployed to prevent more rockets from being fired. Among the steps taken was preventing non-residents from entering south Lebanon (Almarkazia.com, July 14, 2014).
The Kerem Shalom Crossing
18. Despite the unabated rocket fire and the IAF’s attacks, the Kerem Shalom crossing continues functioning as an important lifeline for supplies entering the Gaza Strip. Every day food, medical equipment and fuel are delivered through it (Cogat.idf.il, July 14, 2014).
The Erez Crossing
19. During Operation Protective Edge the Erez crossing has been open to allow foreign nationals to leave the Gaza Strip (despite the mortar shell fire targeting the crossing that killed an Israeli civilian). On July 15, 2014, apparently because of the death of the Israeli, the Hamas ministry of the interior announced that the crossing would resume activity on the afternoon of July 16, 2014. According to the announcement, all the international agencies had to provide their employees working at the crossing with the necessary protection (Website of the Hamas ministry of the interior, July 15, 2014).
Aid for the Gazan Population
20. Several countries announced their intention to send aid to the Gaza Strip:
1) The king of Bahrain issued urgent instructions providing humanitarian aid to be sent to the Palestinian people to ease their suffering and appointed the royal charity organization to deal with the issue (Bna.bh, July 15, 2014).
2) Mohamed Mortagi, who represents Turkey’s TIKA (Turkey’s Coordination and Cooperation Agency) in the Palestinian Authority (PA), said that on orders from the Turkish prime minister, the agency had begun distributing food and other humanitarian aid to the Gazans (Aa.com.tr, July 15, 2014).
3) Following a telephone conversation with Khaled Mashaal, head of Hamas’ political bureau, the head of the Malaysian government said he would send humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip (Bernama.com, July 15, 2014).
Attack on the Convoy of the National Consensus Government’s Minister of Health
21. Jowad Awad, minister of health in the Palestinian national consensus government, who entered the Gaza Strip at the head of an aid convoy on July 15, 2014, was attacked on the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing by Hamas activists. The attackers threw shoes and eggs at him. Hamas criticized him for coming “late, nine days after the beginning of the operation in the Gaza Strip” (Alhayat-j.com and Paltimes.net, July 16, 2014).
22. The minister of health arrived on the instructions of PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas and PA Prime MinisterRami Hamdallah, to monitor the activity of the health system in the Gaza Strip first hand. The PA strongly condemned the attack on him (Alhayat-j.com, July 16, 2014).
23. Interviewed in Cairo, Musa Abu Marzouq, a member of Hamas’ political bureau, said that Hamas was still holding consultations regarding the Egyptian initiative for a ceasefire. He said the lull agreement from 2012 [following Operation Pillar of Defense] was insufficient because the [so-called Israeli] “siege” on the Gaza Strip had to be lifted so that there would not be a war every two years (Al-Mayadeen TV, Lebanon, July 15, 2014).
24. In a different interview in Cairo, Musa Abu Marzouq said that equation of “quiet in return for quiet” was out of the question and that the conditions under which the Gazans had lived for the past seven years could not continue (Al-Arabia Al-Hadath, July 15, 2014).
25. Osama Hamdan, responsible for Hamas’ international relations, said that all the talk about the initiative [i.e., the Egyptian ceasefire] was a mistake, because it was not based on understandings between the involved parties. He said the initiative could not be discussed only via the media (Al-Jazeera, July 15, 2014).
Hamas in the Gaza Strip
26. Senior Hamas figure Musheir al-Masri said that Hamas had rejected the Egyptian initiative in its entirety because the Egyptians had not communicated with Hamas regarding it. He called the initiative a “free service” for Israel that rescued the Israeli prime minister, who could not cope with the capabilities of the “resistance” [i.e., the terrorist organizations] to strike the Israeli home front. He said the new lull agreement had to involve conditions and commitments resulting from them (Aa.com.tr, July 15, 2014). In another interview he said that the Egyptian initiative would be fruitless, because it was “only words for the media” (Felesteen.ps, July 15, 2014).
27. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that Israel’s aggression in the Gaza Strip had not stopped for a minute and that all the talk about a lull was a lie. He said the initiative meant “turning its back on the resistance and coordinating with the Israeli enemy,” and it was an attempt to disarm the “resistance.” He said Hamas would continue striking deep inside Israel with every weapon the “resistance” had until Israel complied with its demands (Sawt al-Aqsa, July 15, 2014).