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Israel to 'intensify, expand' op in Gaza after Hamas rejects ceasefire

Published time: July 15, 2014 12:16
Edited time: July 15, 2014 17:47

A photo taken on July 15, 2014 from the southern Israeli Gaza border shows Israeli army flares falling into the Palestinian enclave. (AFP Photo / Menahem Kahana)

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Israeli PM vowed to intensify the military operation in the Gaza Strip, as IDF resumed airstrikes on Tuesday. This comes in retaliation to rocket fire from the Palestinian side as Hamas' armed wing rejected the peace plan proposed by Egypt.

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Hamas has fired 47 rockets since we suspended our strikes in Gaza at 9am [local time]. As a result, we have resumed our operation against Hamas,” the IDF said in a statement. "Israeli forces are attacking again."

Israel will “expand and intensify” the military campaign due to the continued rocket fire from Gaza, said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in broadcast remarks

"It would have been preferable to have solved this diplomatically, and this is what we tried to do when we accepted the Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire, but Hamas leaves us no choice but to expand and intensify the campaign against it."

The military operation should end when the Israeli army takes full control of the Gaza Strip, said Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Monday speaking at a press conference. He called for a stop to the "never-ending hesitation and asking of questions."

"Israel must go all the way," he added. "A ceasefire is a tacit agreement that Hamas continue to build up its power."

“It is clear that Hamas will use any ceasefire to make more rockets and smuggle in more explosives."

Late on Monday, Egypt proposed a truce between Israel and Hamas by establishing a 12-hour ceasefire at 06:00 GMT and launching negotiations in Cairo.

A top Hamas official in Cairo said the Islamist movement was still considering the plan. But Hamas' armed wing rejected the ceasefire, saying its battle with Israel would "increase in ferocity and intensity".

Despite Hamas’ wing opposing the ceasefire, Palestinian officials say they still may hold talks with Egyptian intelligence in an effort to resolve the conflict, Israeli media report.

Smoke from rockets fired from Gaza City are seen after being launched toward Israel, on July 15, 2014. (AFP Photo / Thomas Coex)

Israel, in their turn, agreed to the truce minutes before the ceasefire was to come into force.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed that the truce will “give the opportunity for the demilitarization of the (Gaza) Strip - from missiles, from rockets and from tunnels - through diplomatic means.” He added that if Hamas rejects the proposal, the IDF will have to “broaden the military operation.”

Read more: Israeli 'knock on the roof' bombing technique caught on film (VIDEO)

A missile is launched by an "Iron Dome" battery, a short-range missile defence system designed to intercept and destroy incoming short-range rockets and artillery shells, on July 15, 2014 in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod. (AFP Photo / David Buimovitch)

The US has condemned Hamas actions following Israel’s acceptance of the truce.

"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 secure] a ceasefire," US Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters in Vienna.

He added that currently there is “potential of an even greater escalation of violence" as Israel has “the right to defend itself.

Tuesday marks the eighth day of Israel's 'Operation Protective Edge,' in which more than 180 Palestinians are reported to have been killed. The operation has not seen much support worldwide, with thousands of protesters in the US, UK, France, Turkey, Greece, India, Indonesia, Australia, Spain and other countries gathering over the weekend to hold demonstrations against Israeli airstrikes.

Some of the protests turned violent – in Paris the demonstrators on Bastille Square started throwing projectiles at police officers, who in turn responded with tear gas. In another incident in the French capital on Sunday, a synagogue was attacked during a service, with worshippers briefly barricaded inside.