Israel has rejected a proposed regional ceasefire plan put forward by the United States, Egypt, Qatar and other countries aimed at ending over two weeks of fighting with Palestinian militants in Gaza. The fighting, the worst in years, has left over 200 dead and caused immense destruction in the Gaza Strip.
Ceasefire Plan Details
The ceasefire plan presented to Israel calls for:
- An immediate bilateral ceasefire between Israel and Hamas
- Gradual lifting of Israel’s blockade on Gaza and allowing more supplies and aid into the territory
- Release of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel
- Eventual reopening of crossings between Gaza and Egypt
- Talks on establishing an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel
In return, the plan asks Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza to halt all rocket attacks into Israel, hand over remains of two fallen Israeli soldiers and promise no more border attacks or airborne incendiary devices.
The plan has backing from the United States, Egypt, Qatar and other countries in the regions who helped broker it. However, Israel remains opposed.
Israel Rejects Deal; Fighting Continues
Israel rejected the proposed ceasefire deal, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying “Israel will not agree to any plan that does not provide long-term security.”
Israel remains deeply skeptical of any deal with Hamas and believes the plan does not do enough to demilitarize factions in Gaza or provide guarantees of sustained quiet for Israeli citizens. There are also concerns over concessions related to prisoners, opening of crossings and talks on Palestinian statehood.
With Israel refusing the regional plan, fighting has continued unabated. Airstrikes on Gaza and rocket fire into Israel has intensified over the past 72 hours:
- Israel has struck over 800 targets in Gaza, destroying miles of militant tunnels and causing widespread damage
- Palestinian militants have launched over 500 rockets at Israel, reaching as far as Tel Aviv
- 26 Palestinians and 7 Israelis have been killed in latest clashes
Casualties on both sides are mounting and there seems no end in sight to what has become the worst round of Israel-Hamas clashes since a 2014 war.
International Pressure on Israel
As the civilian death toll in Gaza climbs, there is growing diplomatic pressure on Israel to agree to a ceasefire.
The United States has warned Israel not to undertake a ground invasion of Gaza, while multiple European countries have called for an immediate end to Gaza strikes. Arab states like Saudi Arabia and Jordan have also ramped up demands on Israel to reach a ceasefire deal.
However, Israel remains defiant in face of the pressure. Prime Minister Netanyahu has stated Israel aims “to exact maximum toll on Hamas” for rocket attacks through punishing airstrikes on Gaza. The military campaign has widespread public support in Israel as well, significantly reducing domestic pressure for a ceasefire.
- The United States, Egypt and other mediators are likely to present revised ceasefire proposals to Israel and Hamas in coming days
- However, neither side seems willing to budge at the moment from their stance or demands around a truce
- Israel is likely to continue heavy airstrikes and possibly undertake limited ground operations into Gaza to target militant tunnels and infrastructure
- Palestinian militants are likely to sustain rocket barrages deeper into Israeli cities
- The fighting could persist for over a week barring any major breakthrough in ceasefire negotiations
In essence, the Israel-Hamas war has entered a dangerous new phase with ceasefire talks deadlocked. The high civilian toll and destruction in Gaza is alarming while disruptions from intensified rocket fire threatens day-to-day life in Israel. Hopes for a near term end to clashes seem unlikely at present.
Casualties Over Two Weeks of Fighting
|Killed in Gaza
|Killed in Israel
Timeline of Escalating Clashes
|Border clashes erupt; Palestinian militants launch test rockets
|Hamas fires long-range rockets at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv
|Israel begins heavy retaliatory airstrikes on Gaza
|Gaza tower housing media offices destroyed in Israeli strike
|Over 200 dead in Gaza as strikes intensify
|Militant rocket barrage reaches as far as Haifa in Israel
|Israel rejects ceasefire plan proposed by US and other countries
The recent flare up in Israel-Hamas clashes has led to a dangerous escalation over the past two weeks. With ceasefire talks deadlocked, the fighting threatens to intensify further in the coming days leading to more loss of life. The Islamist rulers of Gaza Hamas and Israel’s right-wing government led by Prime Minister Netanyahu both seem unwilling to back down at the moment. This means hopes for a near term end to clashes are receding.
International diplomatic efforts for a ceasefire are likely to continue via the United States, Egypt and other regional stakeholders. But the resolution rests on persuading either Hamas or the Israelis to reassess their hardline military and political stances around the Gaza conflict – a tough challenge at this point for even experienced mediators. For now, ordinary Palestinians and Israelis seem set to bear the main brunt of the intensifying violence.
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