The latest round of cease-fire talks between the Israelis and the Palestinian militants ended brusquely on Tuesday after a round of Hamas rockets rained in Southern Israel.
According to reports, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu told his cease-fire negotiators to go home after a total of 10 rockets launched from Gaza had fallen on Tuesday. This is in violation of an existing truce that Cairo was hoping to extend through the cease-fire talks.
Israeli F-16s responded by firing up to six of their own missiles in the Sheikh Radwan, the neighborhood of the Gaza City home of Mohammed Yassin Dalu, late Tuesday. Dalu is reportedly the head of the Hamas rocket division.
The Palestinians said Israel believed that Muhammad Deif, the commander in chief of Hamas’s military, was inside the home and was the bombing’s primary target. It is not clear whether Mr. Deif had been in the house at the time. Neither Hamas nor Israel has provided evidence of his survival or demise. Instead, Hamas accounts claim that one of Deif’s wives and their infant son died in the attack. Three other residents were also killed.
— Chicago Tribune (@chicagotribune) August 20, 2014
Reports state that this is probably the fifth Israeli attempt to assassinate Deif. He has been No.1 on Israel’s most wanted list for over twenty years. The fact that he eluded Israel by living underground for decades, and that he survived previous assassination attempts, has made him a symbol of Hamas’s staying power.
In the 24 hours since the truce fell apart, Palestinian militants in Gaza fired more than 150 rockets at Israel. Israel had also fired at dozens of sites in Gaza. The Gaza Health Ministry said 22 people were killed by Israel.
“We remain very concerned about developments in Gaza,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Wednesday, as reported by Washington Post. “We call for an immediate end to rocket fire and hostilities and a return to cease-fire talks.”
Harf continued to say that Secretary of State John Kerry talked to Netanyahu to discuss Gaza and efforts toward a cease-fire but that she could not provide further details. She repeated that the United States supports Israel’s right to defend itself.