Only 72 hours after the U.S. and U.N. orchestrated a cease-fire in Gaza between Israel and Hamas forces, the crisis rekindled. According to a report by The New York Times, on Friday, Aug. 1, Palestinian militants emerged from a tunnel near Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Israeli forces responded with assaults leaving 35 dead and 100 wounded, according to Gaza health officials. After the skirmish, Israelis reported two dead and one captured. The captured soldier has been identified as 23-year-old Second Lt. Hadar Goldin.
Naturally, both sides put the other at fault for the conflict—Hamas military officials in the Qassam Brigades accused Israel of massacring eastern Rafah residents as they returned to their homes, and Israel officials asserted that Hamas had broken the cease-fire by entering the region and capturing a soldier.
Adding to the blurry lines, Hamas officials said in a statement that news of the captured Israeli solder was fabricated in order “to cover up the barbaric massacres, especially in Rafah.”
A spokesperson for the Israeli military, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, told a different story, claiming that soldiers were following orders from the cease-fire to destroy the Rafah tunnel, when militants came out of the tunnel along with a suicide attacker. Then Goldin was dragged back down into the tunnel.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of the U.N., usually critical of Israel’s tactics, spoke out against Hamas, saying that their action “calls into question the credibility of Hamas’ assurances to the United Nations.” He asserts that Hamas “constitute[d] a grave violation of the cease-fire, and one that is likely to have very serious consequences for the people of Gaza, Israel, and beyond.”
U.S. officials, including President Obama, are holding Hamas responsible for breaking the cease-fire and urge the two enemies to again halt fighting. Obama told reporters, “There’s a lot of anger and a lot of despair, and that’s a volatile mix, but we have to keep trying to restore cease-fire.”
Image Credit: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters
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