GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — An Egyptian truce proposal for the conflict in Gaza unraveled Tuesday after the Islamic militant Hamas rejected the plan. Gaza militants launched scores of rockets at Israel, which after halting fire for hours finally responded with what Hamas security said were more than two dozen air strikes.
The speedy resumption of violence, less than a day after Egypt presented its cease-fire plan, illustrated that it will be harder than in the past to negotiate an end to Israel-Hamas fighting. A key difference to a previous truce in 2012 is that Hamas does not trust the current rulers of Egypt who deposed a Hamas-friendly government in Cairo a year ago.
Gaza militants fired close to 100 rockets since the morning, when the truce was to have begun, the Israeli military said. In the evening, a quick barrage of 40 rockets fell over the course of a few minutes. Israeli medics said two people were injured, one seriously. Palestinian health officials say 194 Palestinians were killed and more than 1,400 over the past week.
Hamas believes it has little to lose by continuing to fight, while a truce on unfavorable terms could further weaken its grip of the Islamic group on the Gaza Strip, a territory it seized in 2007.
The Egyptian plan asked both sides to halt hostilities without preconditions and then to try to negotiate a new border regime easing the blockade of Gaza, with Cairo’s mediation.
Hamas wants a significant easing of the blockade, enforced by Israel and Egypt by varying degrees since 2007. Egypt tightened the closure over the past year by shutting down smuggling tunnels that were crucial for Gaza’s economy, pushing Hamas into a severe financial crisis.
“The siege on Gaza must be broken and the people of Gaza should live freely like other people of the world,” Moussa Abu Marzouk, a top Hamas official, told the Lebanese TV channel Al-Mayadeen. “There should be a new equation so that we will not have a war on Gaza every two years.”