The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

Ceasefire rejected, Egypt leads mediation

Smoke rises after Israeli missile strikes hit the northern Gaza Strip Wednesday. The Israeli military says it has resumed airstrikes on Gaza after Hamas militants violated a de-escalation brokered by Egypt. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Smoke rises after Israeli missile strikes hit the northern Gaza Strip Wednesday. The Israeli military says it has resumed airstrikes on Gaza after Hamas militants violated a de-escalation brokered by Egypt. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

Egypt remains at the forefront of mediating a Palestinian-Israeli ceasefire after the first ceasefire attempt was officially rejected by Hamas leaders today.

According to a press release by the Israeli Defense Ministry, the Israeli government ceased fire at 9 a.m. Tuesday, and in the span of six hours, 50 rockets were fired from Gaza. At 3 p.m. the Israeli government declared Hamas’s rejection of the ceasefire, and resumed its airstrike campaign, Operation Protective Edge.

Operation Protective Edge continued into its second week Tuesday and the Palestinian death toll has reached almost 200, the AP reported, including the first death of an Israeli civilian. Ministers of the League of Arab States met in Kuwait Monday to organize the ceasefire and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abaas traveled to Cairo today to discuss a peace agreement, a CNN report said.

After word that the ceasefire failed to produce peace talks, Secretary of State John Kerry canceled his flight to Cairo, giving Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi a leading role in mediating peace between Israel and Hamas.

“[Secretary of State John Kerry’s] efforts need to be continued,” Consul General Maged Refaat of the Egyptian Consulate in Chicago said. “Kerry is convinced [a peace agreement] is doable. It can be done with U.S. involvement.”

Deputy Consul General Alex Goldman-Shayman of the Israeli Consulate in Chicago said it was in Egypt’s interest to mediate a peace between Hamas and Israel not only to bring stability to its border, but also to build Egypt’s reputation as a regional superpower.

“It’s not in [Egypt’s] interest to have weapons smuggled into Gaza,” Shayman said. “Otherwise weapons can be used against Egypt. [The peace mediation] was a good opportunity for Egypt to show it could bring peace and stability.”

In November 2012, a similar outbreak between Israel and Hamas resulted in an eight-day spree of violence that, until now, was held at bay by a ceasefire agreement mediated by Egypt and the United States.

The one-page document called for a ceasefire, but also outlined a tentative agreement concerning border control and trading goods. A New York Times report from 2012 said the agreement postponed any resolution of the 2007 border-blockade on Gaza, which was a focal point of Hamas’s demands.

Deputy Consul General Shayman said Israel had to stop the supply of weapons into Gaza because Hamas wants only to attack and damage Israel. Israel’s goal now is to destroy Hamas’s means of attack by targeting weapons facilities in Gaza, Shayman said.

“We are dealing with a terror organization, not a state or country,” Shayman said. “Hamas does not care about their people. This is hard for us to understand. That’s the difference between a democratic state and a terrorist organization.”

Hamas claimed ownership of a drone that was shot down by the Israeli military Monday. Deputy Consul General Shayman said the attempted drone strike was meant to show its intention of deepening the struggle against Israel.

“There is no way to compare Israel’s firepower to Hamas,” Consul General Refaat said. “Hamas’s military capability is very primitive. They are using this mostly as a propaganda war.”

Refaat said Hamas’s rejection of the ceasefire continues to weaken the Palestinian cause for unity.

“Hamas’s focus should not be on rockets, but bringing the Palestinian people together and engaging Israel peacefully,” Refaat said. Refaat referenced the 1979 peace agreement between Egypt and Israel as an example that peace between Arab nations and Israel is “not a lost cause.”

“Neither side is winning anything,” Refaat said. “The people in Gaza are living in bad conditions. They need to stop the killing and ease the suffering.”

The death toll has surpassed that of the 2012 conflict between Hamas and Israel, and many in the international community declared a humanitarian crisis.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement Sunday that the “longstanding, serious political dispute between Israelis and Palestinians” could not be resolved by military means and called for an immediate ceasefire.

Ki-moon called Hamas’s “indiscriminate” firing of rockets against Israeli civilians a “violation of international law,” and also expressed concern that any Israeli ground offensive would “undoubtedly” lead to an increase in unwarranted civilian deaths.

According to Consul General Refaat, there are seven border-crossing stations into Gaza, one of which goes to Egypt, and the rest to Israel.

“Egypt controls the airspace, everything,” Refaat said. “Israel’s occupying power makes them responsible for providing for Gaza.”

Deputy Consul General Shayman said Israel tries to send humanitarian aid through the border-crossing for civilians who are without electricity and a clean water supply, but the effort is not easy, Shayman said.

“When a Hamas rocket destroyed Gaza’s electricity supply, they asked Israel to fix it. You can understand why Israel does not want to go to Gaza,” Shayman said.

Palestinians in Gaza are also receiving aid through the border-crossing with Egypt, Refaat said, though it is not Egypt’s obligation to provide anything.

U.S. President Barack Obama spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu July 10th, and condemned the rocket fire from Gaza. Obama also reaffirmed Israel’s defense tactics, a White House statement said.

Refaat said reports that U.S. involvement was “dwindling” was “not one-hundred percent correct,” and that relations between the U.S. and Israel made the U.S an accepted “broker” in the region.

“The U.S. is definitely influential in the middle east,” Consul General Refaat said.

According to the 2012 New York Times article, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was the “push” that solidified the peace talks with former-Egyptian Prime Minister Mohamed Morsi and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Secretary of State John Kerry accused Hamas of using civilians as human shields, and pledged to reschedule his trip to Cairo in the coming days if Egyptian efforts to negotiate a ceasefire failed, a Wall Street Journal report said.

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