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News, July 2014
In Defiance to Obama's Demand for an Immediate Ceasefire, Netanyahu Announces a Long Israeli War on the Besieged Palestinian Population in Gaza, July 28, 2014
Obama speaks to Netanyahu, stresses need for 'immediate' ceasefire
AFP, July 27, 2014 5:30 PM
Washington (AFP) -
US President Barack Obama spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday, and stressed the need for an immediate and sustainable ceasefire in Gaza.
In a statement, the White House said Obama "made clear the strategic imperative of instituting an immediate, unconditional humanitarian ceasefire that ends hostilities now and leads to a permanent cessation of hostilities based on the November 2012 ceasefire agreement."
The call between the two leaders came as the Islamic Resistant Movement, Hamas, fired more rockets at Israel Sunday, despite claims it had accepted a UN request for a 24-hour extension of a humanitarian truce in war-torn Gaza.
Hamas's belated acceptance of diplomatic calls for a temporary ceasefire was announced several hours after Israel resumed its devastating military assault on the Palestinian enclave after a pause of more than 24 hours.
During the call, Obama "underscored the United States' strong condemnation of Hamas' rocket and tunnel attacks against Israel and reaffirmed Israel's right to defend itself."
But the US head of state also "reiterated the United States' serious and growing concern about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives, as well as the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza," according to the White House.
The conflict has killed more than 1,030 Palestinians, 43 Israeli soldiers and three civilians inside Israel.
Obama "underscored the enduring importance of ensuring Israel's security" as well as "protecting civilians, alleviating Gaza's humanitarian crisis and enacting a sustainable ceasefire that both allows Palestinians in Gaza to lead normal lives and addresses Gaza's long-term development and economic needs, while strengthening the Palestinian authority."
Obama reiterated Washington's support for Egypt's initiative to ease the situation -- endorsed by Israel but not accepted by Hamas -- and stressed that "ultimately, any lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must ensure the disarmament of terrorist groups and the demilitarization of Gaza."
Speaking on US broadcaster CNN earlier Sunday, Netanyahu had accused Hamas of violating a ceasefire that it had itself called and vowed that Israeli operations in Gaza would continue.
Israeli Leader Sees No Quick End to Gaza War
New York Times, By ISABEL KERSHNER and BEN HUBBARD
Netanyahu Readies for Long Gaza Conflict
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said the country must be prepared for a lengthy military campaign in the Gaza Strip.
There were reports of more Israeli casualties but the military did not provide details.
“We will not complete the operation without neutralizing the tunnels,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said in a televised address. “This is the clear and unequivocal objective of the state of Israel and the need for it has been apparent again today.”
Mr. Netanyahu did not announce any immediate change in the stated goals of the operation, which have been defined as severely damaging Hamas’s rocket and tunnel infrastructure, but all the indications were that the fighting would intensify.
By Monday evening the Israeli military said it had warned Palestinian civilians in several areas of the eastern and northern Gaza Strip to evacuate their homes “immediately,” through phone calls and text messages, and it stepped up airstrikes and shelling in the north and south of the Gaza Strip, killing at least 23 Palestinians overnight, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.
A fifth Israeli soldier was killed in combat in southern Gaza and Hamas fired rockets deep into Israel.
At around midnight flares lit up Gaza City, and early Tuesday morning Israeli warplanes attacked the house of Ismail Haniya, the deputy chief of the Hamas movement, in the Shati refugee camp on the western edge of the city, according to witnesses and the Hamas news media.
Moshe Yaalon, the Israeli defense minister, spoke of a campaign that could last “more long days.”
“If the (Palestinian resistance) organizations in Gaza think they can break Israel and its citizens,” Mr. Yaalon said, “they will come to understand in the next few days that this is not the case.”
International pressure for a cease-fire has grown with alarm over the soaring casualty figures, mostly in Gaza. More than 1,100 Palestinians have been killed, the majority civilians, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza. At least 48 Israeli soldiers and three civilians on the Israeli side have been killed.
The secretary-general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, joined the Security Council in calling for an immediate and unconditional cease-fire, telling reporters in New York, “Gaza is in a critical condition. Israeli missiles have pummeled Gaza. Hamas rockets have randomly struck Israel.”
Mr. Netanyahu criticized the Security Council’s statement earlier Monday, saying that it “related to the needs of a murderous terrorist organization that attacks Israeli citizens,” referring to Hamas, “and does not address the security needs of Israel.”
Mr. Netanyahu reiterated his demand that the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip “must be part of any solution.”
US Fuming Over Israeli Criticism of Kerry
Jul 28, 2014, 5:51 PM ET
By MATTHEW LEE and JULIE PACE Associated Press
The Obama administration pushed back strongly Monday at a torrent of Israeli criticism over Secretary of State John Kerry's latest bid to secure a cease-fire with Hamas, accusing some in Israel of launching a "misinformation campaign" against the top American diplomat.
"It's simply not the way partners and allies treat each other," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
Her comments were echoed by the White House, where National Security Adviser Susan Rice said the U.S. was "dismayed" by mischaracterizations of Kerry's efforts. Israeli media reports have cast Kerry as seeking a cease-fire that is more favorable to Hamas and being dismissive of key Israeli concerns.
Kerry himself, in a speech to the Center for American Progress, noted the criticism but did not give ground.
"Make no mistake, when the people of Israel are rushing to bomb shelters, when innocent Israeli and Palestinian teenagers are abducted and murdered, when hundreds of innocent civilians have lost their lives, I will and we will make no apologies for our engagement," he said.
The coordinated pushback in Washington came amid growing U.S. frustration with Israel as Palestinian civilian casualties mount amid a sustained Israeli air and ground war in the Gaza Strip. In recent days, U.S. officials have been using subtle yet noticeably tougher language in pressing Israel to accept an immediate and unconditional humanitarian cease-fire.
The U.S. has made little progress in achieving that objective. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a televised speech Monday that his country must be ready for "a prolonged campaign" against Hamas in Gaza.
As Kerry returned from the region over the weekend, Israeli media commentators leveled almost nonstop criticism of his attempts to bring Qatar and Turkey — two countries viewed by Israel as strong Hamas supporters — into the cease-fire negotiations. Kerry was also accused of abandoning some of Israel's key demands during the negotiations, including demilitarizing Gaza.
In trying to implement the cease-fire over the weekend, "U.S. Secretary of State of State John Kerry ruined everything," wrote columnist Ari Shavit in Monday's Haaretz, Israel's leading liberal newspaper. "Very senior officials in Jerusalem described the proposal that Kerry put on the table as a 'strategic terrorist attack.'"
Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer sought to distance his government from that view, saying, "The criticism of Secretary Kerry for his good faith efforts to advance a sustainable cease-fire is unwarranted."
"There is broad understanding between Israel and the United States about the principles for a sustainable cease-fire, and we look forward to continuing to work closely with the United States to advance that goal and a durable solution to the problems in Gaza," Dermer said Monday.
U.S. officials disputed the notion that Kerry had formally presented Israel a cease-fire proposal and cast the document in question as a draft given to the Israelis as part of an effort to gain their input in seeking a weeklong cessation of hostilities. Officials said the draft was based on an earlier Egyptian cease-fire proposal that Israel had accepted but Hamas had rejected.
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