Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

UN Security Council meet ends with no agreement on Gaza violence

The escalation came after at least seven Palestinians were killed on Sunday in a covert Israeli operation The escalation came after at least seven Palestinians were killed on Sunday in a covert Israeli operation
Ellis Copeland | 14 November, 2018, 17:36

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman stepped down from his position on Wednesday, slamming Prime Minister Netanyahu for "surrendering to Hamas terror".

Why it matters: The escalating violence risked wrecking weeks of delicate diplomacy between Israel and Hamas as well as regional powers such as Egypt and Qatar aimed at lowering tensions in the Gaza Strip. The resignation will take effect after 48 hours.

The groups, including Hamas, said in a statement on Tuesday they would abide by the ceasefire as long as Israel did the same.

Lieberman, one of the hawkish figures in Netanyahu's cabinet that include various right-wing parties, was considered responsible for the botched Israeli raid in Gaza on Sunday, which gave way to the worst violence between Israel and Palestinians since a 2014 war.

It is thought that Lieberman's resignation could bring about the collapse of Israel's ruling coalition since, without his Yisrael Beiteinu party, Likud will only hold a one-seat majority in the Knesset.

Elections are not due until November 2019, but Lieberman's resignation increases the likelihood of an earlier vote. Rockets fired by the Palestinian groups in Gaza killed an Israeli officer and injured 50 others.

Netanyahu has come under heavy political pressure for not delivering a more decisive blow against Hamas.

With air raid sirens wailing throughout southern Israel and the explosions of airstrikes thundering in Gaza, the sides had appeared to be headed to what would have been their fourth war in a decade.

This comes after the government agreed to a ceasefire with the Hamas militants, ending the latest uptick in violence in Gaza, which saw Palestinians launch hundreds of rockets, with Israel responding with strikes against militant targets in Gaza.

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Since Sunday, Israeli air strikes killed 14 Palestinians and destroyed several buildings used by Gaza's governing political party, Hamas.

"Our enemies begged for a ceasefire and they knew very well why".

Israel withdrew settlers and soldiers from Gaza in 2005 but maintains tight control of its land, air and sea borders.

"Were I to stay in office, I would not be able to look southern residents in the eye", Lieberman told reporters, referring to Israelis subjected to a surge in Palestinian rocket attacks before Tuesday's truce took hold.

"It's a political victory for Gaza that has succeeded in standing firm and provoking a political natural disaster in Israel", Hamas said.

Israel hit back with widespread strikes on Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets, killing six Palestinians and wounding 25.

Israel and Egypt immediately imposed a blockade on Gaza to contain Hamas. The blockade has ravaged Gaza's economy, and Israel refuses to lift it unless Hamas disarms, a demand rejected by militant group, which is pledged to Israel's destruction. He also condemned the government's decision to send Qatari-bought fuel into Gaza.

Demonstrators each week approach the border fence, throwing firebombs, grenades and burning tires at Israeli troops. The Associated Press says Israeli snipers have killed about 170 people, a lot of them unarmed.

Israel said the covert operation was an intelligence-gathering mission.

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