During an appearance on “Fox News Sunday” Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Hamas has again broken a 24-hour ceasefire agreement that was put into place on Saturday.
“Hamas has broken five ceasefires,” Netanyahu told “Fox News Sunday.” “They’ve violated their own ceasefires. They are firing on us now . . . We’ll do whatever is necessary to achieve our goal of a sustained quiet.”
There was a 12-hour lull on Saturday after both sides agreed to a ceasefire following U.S. and U.N. mediation efforts. According to Palestinian health official Ashraf al-Kidra, Palestinians were seen returning to their houses that were reduced to rubble. The lull also allowed medics to collect 150 bodies.
It is Hamas who has been deemed a terrorist group by the United States and other countries around the world. While they control the Gaza Strip, the other militant group is an Islamic Jihad group. On Sunday after the clashes between Gaza militants and Israel began again, a field commander from the Jihad group was killed by Israeli tank fire near the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis.
The Jerusalem Post reported on Sunday, 43 Israeli soldiers have died during in the ongoing conflict after announcing Chief Sgt. Barak Refael Degorker became the 43rd soldier to die in Operation Protective Edge on Sunday after being struck by a mortar shell fired by Gaza militants in the Gaza Strip.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri sent a text message to journalists on Sunday demanding that a truce needs to include a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip. Zuhri said the thousands of displaced Palestinians also must be allowed to return to their homes saying Israel’s terms for a ceasefire are “not acceptable.”
Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, an Israeli Army spokesman said Israel Defense Forces will continue to demolish the more than 30 Hamas tunnels which he said is the central goal of the Israeli ground operation in Gaza.
Netanyahu’s office released a statement on Sunday saying “The military is aiming its fire at terror sites, but if citizens are accidently harmed Hamas is responsible for this since it once again violated an offer to a humanitarian lull that Israel accepted.”
Since the outbreak of violence between Hamas militants and Israel Defense Forces began on July 8, Hamas has fired more than 2,400 rockets into Israel toward major cities including Tel Aviv. The sophisticated Iron Dome missile defense system that intercepts and shoots incoming missiles out of the sky has kept the casualties low in Israel.
Three civilians have died in Israel since the violence began. Two Israeli civilians and a Thai worker died from rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza militants. The death toll in the Gaza Strip has soared to over 1,000 who are mostly civilians after Israel Defense Forces have used airstrikes to pummel at least 500 houses.