The State Department on Tuesday afternoon blasted Hamas for shattering what had been an ongoing ceasefire between Gaza-based Palestinian groups and Israel, with Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf “condemn[ing]… renewed rocket fire” launched from the Gaza Strip earlier that day and calling on the terror organization to return to truce talks.
MS. HARF: Well, it came from Gaza. And the – and Hamas has security responsibility for Gaza. So it did come from Gaza.
QUESTION: And can you confirm that it did —
MS. HARF: The rocket fire came from Gaza, yes.
QUESTION: And you are certain that rocket fire was fired from Gaza?
MS. HARF: We are.
QUESTION: Okay. Let me ask you, on the humanitarian situation —
MS. HARF: It’s not a stealth weapon. You can see it.
Agence France-Presse (AFP) wrote up Harf’s comments under the terse headline “US blames Hamas for Gaza truce collapse.”
Shortly after the briefing ended Hamas escalated its rocket fire, launching a volley of at least 50 rockets and hitting both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Daniel Nisman, an Israel-based risk analyst who heads the Middle East-based Levantine Group, noted the pace of the attacks.
45+ rockets fired from Gaza in the past two hours. That’s more than one rocket every two minutes.
— Daniel Nisman (@DannyNis) August 19, 2014
Hamas was explicit in claiming credit for the mass barrage, and Jerusalem-based security analyst Brooklyn Middleton conveyed boasts from the group declaring that it had been targeting Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport.
Business Insider cited that claim of responsibility, as well as the rocket fire itself, as an indication the ceasefire is over.
The rocket bombardment, and Hamas’s claims of responsibility, is an indication that the ceasefire negotiation process in Cairo is effectively over. Hamas likely felt that it wasn’t getting enough Israeli concessions out of the process — concessions that Israel believed it didn’t need to grant after destroying much of Hamas’s rocket arsenal and its network of cross-border tunnels over a month of combat.
The Israeli military has reportedly been instructed to prepare for a renewed ground conflict inside the Gaza Strip, and is thought to have a plan in place if it is ordered to conduct the new incursion.
[Photo: U.S. Department of State / YouTube]