Tuesday, July 15, 2014

IDF strikes in the Gaza Strip continue, except in the hours following the govt.’s acceptance of the Egyptian cease-fire, killing 13 Palestinians. The IDF warns 100,000 residents of the al-Zaytun and al-Shuja‘iya neighborhoods to evacuate before morning on 7/16. Palestinians fire more than 120 rockets into Israel, including dozens directed at Tel Aviv, in a barrage claimed jointly by al-Qassam Brigades and al-Quds Brigades. Nr. the Erez crossing, 1 Israeli civilian is killed by a mortar shell while distributing food supplies to IDF soldiers. Nine rockets are intercepted by Iron Dome, and the rest caused no damage or injuries. (AFP, AP, HA, MNA, REU, WAFA 7/15)

Israel’s security cabinet votes 6–2 in favor of accepting the Egyptian cease-fire proposal from the previous day, and the IDF stops all strikes for several hours. PM Netanyahu says that if Hamas rejects the initiative, Israel will have “legitimacy” to take further action “to restore quiet.” PA Pres. Abbas, in Cairo for talks with Egyptian pres. al-Sisi, calls for the acceptance of the proposal. However, Hamas rejects the text, describing it as “an initiative of kneeling and submission,” and both the armed Palestinian groups and the IDF continue hostilities. Hamas spokesperson Abu Zuhri says that the group was ignored by Egyptian mediators, with Islamic Jihad official Khalid al-Batsh commenting that “initiatives shouldn’t be proposed through media outlets, but rather through the obvious channels, which are resistance factions and their leaders.” An unnamed senior PLO official says that “the Egyptians coordinated the initiative with Abbas and ignored Gaza,” and thus “Hamas leaders felt humiliated by the fact that the proposal was released without them being consulted about its contents ahead of time.” (AFP, AP, HA, MNA, REU, WAFA 7/15; PCHR 7/16)

After Hamas rejects the deal, Netanyahu vows to “significantly expand our offensive,” saying that the group “will pay for its decision.” Meanwhile, Dep. DM Danny Danon describes the Israeli govt.’s response to the Gaza crisis as a “failure” and Netanyahu fires him. (AFP, AP, HA, REU 7/15)

Suspected Salafi jihadists fire 3 rockets from the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, into Israel, wounding 4 civilians in Eilat. (REU 7/15)

In Vienna, reps. of Iran and the P5+1 powers continue their negotiations leading up to the 7/20 deadline for a comprehensive agreement on Iran’s disputed nuclear program. U.S. Secy. of State Kerry says they “have made progress . . . but there’s still more work to do.” Iranian FM Zarif says that Iran wants to “arrive at a solution everyone can be happy about.” The key issues remaining are Iran’s centrifuges and its uranium enrichment capacity over the next 10 years. (ALM, NYT 7/15)