Politics

Outlook is bleak in Israel and Gaza, but shifting

israel_gaza_rubble_aug_3.jpg

Rescue workers search through in the central Gaza Strip, Aug. 3, 2014.

Credit:

MAHMUD HAMS

JERUSALEM — Fighting between Israel and Hamas, the extremist Islamic faction ruling Gaza, continued on Sunday for the 27th day in a row, without so much as a pause to acknowledge the diplomatic efforts to end the war underway in Cairo.

A mid-afternoon barrage of rockets launched from Gaza at Tel Aviv was seen to indicate possible difficulties in the Egypt-sponsored negotiations, which Israel declined to attend. 

In Gaza, an errant Israeli shell exploded near a UN-run school being operated as a shelter, killing 10 people. 

Palestinian sources reported at least 75 killed on Sunday alone, sending the total death toll soaring to 1,830, while it remained unclear — and contested — how many of those were civilians and how many armed fighters.

Israel's south was paralyzed by unrelenting incoming rockets and ensuing sirens — and by another Hamas attempt to infiltrate an Israeli community, which prompted roadblocks on all regional roads and a lockdown for residents.

Without an agreement or even an announcement, Israel began withdrawing many of its infantry troops from Gaza, but an end to hostilities was not at hand.

Instead, after more than 60 military casualties, the redeployment was part of a tactical move to station soldiers inside Israel on border staging grounds, away from areas of direct danger and leaving within the Gaza Strip only those troops actively engaged in neutralizing cross-border tunnels.

Israel announced its refusal to attend the Cairo talks on Friday, after a Hamas ambush killed three Israeli soldiers only 90 minutes into an agreed-upon humanitarian ceasefire. While Jerusalem risked angering Egypt, its most powerful neighbor, by not showing up, Hamas exacerbated its already contentious ties to Egypt by presenting a document listing eight demands unlikely to be met. 

The Palestinian conditions included an immediate ceasefire, end to the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza and international assurances about future investment in the rebuilding of Gaza.