Palestinian groups announce a ceasefire with no word yet from Israel capping two days of escalation that have left seven Palestinians dead and wounded 26 others

The Palestinian Ministry of Health said in a statement that Khalid Marouf, 29, was killed in an Israeli air strike in Jabalia, north of Gaza, Khalid al Sultan, 26, was killed in an Israeli air strike in the northern Gaza city of Beit Lahiya, and Musab Hawwas, 20, was killed in another Israeli air strike in the east of Gaza City.

Since Monday evening, the Israeli occupation forces have been heavily bombarding the Gaza Strip, targeting residential buildings, Palestinian resistance bases and government offices.

According to the Palestinian interior ministry in Gaza, the Israeli fighter jets have targeted eight civilian buildings since last night, including four residential multi-story buildings, the building which hosts the main offices of Al Aqsa Satellite Channel – run by Hamas – and the headquarters of the internal security services in Gaza.

The Palestinian government, UN Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) and the private sector announced closing all their service and education offices to avoid danger of the Israeli attacks, but kept their medical facilities opening with a high degree of readiness to offer emergency medical services.

Failed Israeli operation

This Israeli escalation came after the Palestinian resistance groups in Gaza had launched tens of homemade rockets towards the Israeli settlement in the peripheries of the Gaza Strip in retaliation of the Israeli killing of seven Palestinians in the east of the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis on Sunday night.

Hamas military wing, Al Qassam Brigades, said that its fighters discovered a squad of the Israeli Special Forces three km deep in the city of Khan Younis. “When the Israeli troops felt they were trapped, they opened fire and killed Al Qassam Commander in the east of Khan Younis, Nouriddin Baraka, and his bodyguard,” Al Qassam said in a statement.

“The Israeli troops fled immediately under heavy Israeli fire from the sky,” the statement said, “but our fighters chased them, killed one of them and wounded another.” Israeli army recognised this, but kept the name of the soldier, who was killed, unidentified, for security reasons.

According to the Israeli media, the Israeli military institution said that the Israeli Special Forces were carrying out an operation of an “utmost importance” for Israel’s security. Palestinian sources said that they attempted to plan spying sets in the secret Hamas telecommunication network, but Al Qassam said that the Israeli mission was to kidnap Marwan Issa, the deputy of Al Qassam's top commander.

Israeli security officials said that the Israeli secret operation in Gaza failed. “The Israel Special Forces withdrew to a walled off lot of land, took off their two vehicles and fled away,” an eyewitness told TRT World. “Then, an Israel military aircraft targeted them with heavy fire that completely damaged them,” the eyewitness added.

Lost deterrence

Israeli media reported that the Palestinian resistance rockets wounded 70 Israelis, most of them sustained light wounds, and killed a 40-year-old man.

The former Israeli Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz accused the Israeli army of kneeling down to the Palestinian resistance in Gaza. “Today, Hamas defines the rules of the game,” he told the Israeli media.

Just an hour ago, the Israeli security cabinet ended its meeting, which was held to evaluate the escalating situation and the potential Israeli measures to deal with Gaza. Nothing emerged about the outcomes of the meeting.

Times of Israel, a right-wing Israeli newspaper, reported senior Israeli military officials saying that the army is stepping up, but did not want to call for the reservists. However, the Israeli army have deployed tens of tanks around the eastern Gaza fence. Prior to the meeting, the Israeli member of parliament Moti Yogev said that the Israeli cabinet “is to take strict measures against Gaza.”

However, the spokesman of the Israeli Army Ronen Manelis said, “The activities of the Israeli army are connected with the decisions of the political leadership … I do not think that expanding the operation is correct.” Speaking to the Israeli TV Channel 14, Manelis added, “The political leadership will carry out what the political leadership want, but we will propose alternatives.”

Ceasefire efforts

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported Israeli diplomats saying that Israeli officials are currently working with the UN and Egypt to de-escalate the ongoing tension. The Israeli newspaper stated that UN and Egyptian delegations are going to visit Israel on Wednesday to discuss reaching a ceasefire.

However, Hamas spokesman Abdel Latif al Qanou said, “No one has contacted Hamas yet. There is no ceasefire deal.” In fact, there are efforts, but Hamas demands international guarantees to ensure no possible Israeli violations.

Ismail Ridwan, a senior Hamas leader, said that the world “has to know that Israel is the aggressor and it is the side which violated the truce understanding brokered by Egypt.”

Nickolay Mladenov, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, wrote on twitter, “UN is working closely with Egypt and all concerned to ensure that Gaza steps back from the brink. The escalation in the past 24 hours is EXTREMELY dangerous and reckless. Rockets must STOP, restraint must be shown by all! No effort must be spared to reverse the spiral of violence.”

Since noon, the Israeli occupation and the Palestinian resistance have decreased their fire. Times of Israel said that there are leaks about a ceasefire and Israel Hayom reported an Israeli cabinet minister saying that Israel would punish the Palestinians resistance, but without going for a “war.”