Israeli officials have declined to continue dialogue with international officials, including Egypt, following a barrage of more than 400 missiles, mortars and rockets fired by Hamas at Israeli civilians from Gaza in the space of less than 24 hours.
The Security Cabinet met Tuesday morning at 9 am to receive an updated military briefing following a night in which rocket attacks continued throughout the night.
Members of the Security Cabinet — who include the prime minister, IDF chief of staff, defense minister, heads of intelligence agencies and other top security agencies — discussed the next step in the face of intensified threats by Hamas, who warned residents of Ashkelon to evacuate the city “for their own safety.”
Although international mediators urged Israel and Hamas to act with “restraint” in the face of the uptick in rocket fire Israeli ministers were urging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — who up to this point had been reluctant to move to a full-fledged wartime footing — to allow the IDF to advance its military response to the Gazan hostilities.
United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov wrote in a post on Twitter, “#UN is working closely with #Egypt and all concerned to ensure that #Gaza steps back from the brink. The escalation in the past 24hrs is EXTREMELY dangerous and reckless. Rockets must STOP, restraint must be shown by all! No effort must be spared to reverse the spiral of violence.”
But although Mladenov seemed frantic over the course that Hamas has chosen, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi did not appear to share his fears, tweeting a calm announcement that he had arrived in Palermo for a two-day visit to Italy to discuss events in Libya.
The United States has made it clear that it supports Israel’s decision to retaliate after absorbing six months’ worth of arson attacks, violence at the security fence, endless attempts to storm its border and attack Israeli soldiers and civilians. More than half of Israel’s forests and crops in the western Negev have been burned to the ground over the past six months.
In the past 24 hours, more than 400 rockets, missiles and mortar shells have been fired at southern Israeli civilians — killing two innocent civilians and wounding at least 67 others — while destroying countless buildings, vehicles, businesses and lives.
“Hamas’ activities continue to prove they don’t really care about the Palestinians of Gaza & their only interest is to use them for political purposes. Even Palestinian lives seem not to matter to Hamas,” wrote U.S. Special Representative to International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt in a post on the Twitter social networking site.
“The world has grown tired of Hamas’ violence and the violence of other bad actors in Gaza. This violence prevents any real help for the people of Gaza.”