It’s back to square one

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY ANSHEL PF­EF­FER JERUSALEM

A ROCKET at­tack on Is­rael and a sub­se­quent at­tempt by the IDF to as­sas­si­nate Ha­mas mil­i­tary chief Mo­hammed Deif have spelt the end of cease­fire talks and a re­turn to fullscale war­fare.

There was no of­fi­cial con­fir­ma­tion of Deif’s death but, off-the-record, Is­raeli of­fi­cials said that they be­lieved the mas­ter­mind of Ha­mas’s ter­ror op­er­a­tions had been killed in an airstrike on his home in Gaza on Tues­day night that killed his wife and baby son.

Ac­cord­ing to some re­ports, bunker-bust­ing bombs were used in the at­tack on the Ha­mas chief­tain who was be­lieved to be hid­ing in an un­der­ground shel­ter.

Ha­mas spokesman Abu Obeida claimed that Is­rael had made “an in­tel­li­gence fail­ure”. He was am­bigu­ous, how­ever, over whether Deif had been killed and said in­stead, “he will lead us to Al Aqsa Mosque”.

Ha­mas did not present any ev­i­dence that their leader was alive, nor any de­tails on the iden­tity of an ad­di­tional body re­moved from the de­stroyed build­ing. Deif sur­vived at least four pre­vi­ous Is­raeli as­sas­si­na­tion at­tempts.

Obeida called on the Pales­tinian del­e­ga­tion to leave Cairo where it had been try­ing to work out a cease­fire agree­ment, and warned for­eign air­lines that the move­ment would tar­get Ben Gu­rion Air­port from 6am on Thurs­day morn­ing.

The cease­fire broke down on Tues­day af­ter­noon when rock­ets were launched at Is­rael with­out warn­ing and while the talks were still on­go­ing in Cairo. Ac­cord­ing to at least one Pales­tinian source, Ha­mas uni­lat­er­ally pulled out of the talks and re­sumed fir­ing af­ter the Qatari gov­ern­ment, which has re­mained the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s sole backer and fun­der, re­fused to en­dorse an agree­ment which gave the Gulf state no role in the pro­posed long-term cease­fire ar­range­ments.

Over 150 rock­ets and mor­tar shells were fired at Is­rael in the 24 hours af­ter the cease­fire ended. There were no Is­raeli ca­su­al­ties and a num­ber of rock­ets were in­ter­cepted by Iron Dome. Oth­ers fell in open ar­eas and caused no dam­age. The Is­raeli air force car­ried out over 100 at­tacks on Ha­mas tar­gets. Ac­cord­ing to Pales­tinian sources, 22 peo­ple were killed in Gaza and over 100 wounded. While Is­rael is not ex­pected to re­new its ground of­fen­sive in Gaza, large forces re­mained de­ployed around the Strip and 2,000 re­servists have been re­called to ser­vice.

One of the main c o ncerns wit hi n Is­rael now is that the rocket fire will con­tinue into next week and dis­rupt the start of a new school year. The start of the foot­ball sea­son may have to be post­poned as the Home Com­mand be­lieves it is too risky to hold matches with thou­sands of spec­ta­tors.

Tar­geted: Ha­mas chief Deif

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