Monday, November 19, 2012

Israel gives Hamas 36 hour ultimatum before starting major offensive

Source: Russia Today

Israel has warned Hamas it will step up its offensive in the Gaza Strip in 36 hours if they do not cease rocket fire. Israel's Finance Minister told IDF radio the time left before Israel escalates its attacks can be measured in “hours, not days.”

­"We are at a junction," said Minister Yuval Steinitz. "Either we go toward a calm or toward a meaningful widening of the operation… including a possible move to achieve complete military decision."

Israel has demanded that Hamas cease firing rockets into Israel for a period of “several years”   

and that they stop the smuggling of weapons into Gaza. The conditions are part of a six-part proposal put forward by the Israeli government at negotiations with Hamas in Cairo.

In addition, the proposal asked that Israel be allowed to hunt down terrorists in the event of an attack or if it obtains information on an imminent attack.

Hamas’ official Moussa Abu Marzuk said Hamas would not accept the creation of an Israeli "security belt" in eastern Gaza.

For their part, the Palestinians have demanded the immediate lifting of the Israeli blockade on Gaza and the cessation of IDF targeted killings.

Fears of an Israeli ground offensive in Gaza have heightened following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement on Sunday that the IDF was “prepared for a significant expansion of the operation.”

Additionally, the Israeli cabinet has doubled the troop reserve quota for the Gaza offensive and called up a total of 16,000 reservists.

The IDF provoked international ire and accusations of a massacre following the accidental bombing of a civilian household during air strikes on Sunday night. Eleven civilians, four of them children, perished in the military blunder. Israel says it is investigating the incident and that the misfire was due to a technical hitch in their targeting equipment.

Meanwhile the conflict shows no signs of letting up, with both sides using bellicose rhetoric. The death toll at present stands at over 80 Palestinians, while three Israelis were killed in rocket fire on Thursday, a day after the IDF assassinated the head of the Hamas military wing, Ahmed Jabari.

Israeli tanks maneuver at the Israeli-Gaza Strip border (AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana)

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