The so-called “cease-fire” between Israel and Hamas which began on June 19 is officially holding, with both sides saying they are sticking to it, but the facts on the ground tell a different story.
Israel assassinated a leader of Islamic Jihad on June 24 in the West Bank. The group responded by launching rockets into Israel before meeting with Hamas, after which the group agreed to abide by the cease-fire despite not being a party to the Egyptian-brokered deal. Israel responded by closing briefly opened crossings into the impoverished Gaza Strip. Hamas criticized the move, noting that Israel had agreed to ease the siege of Gaza under the terms of the cease-fire.
On July 26, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an organization with ties to Fatah, a rival group to Hamas, claimed responsibility for another rocket that struck Israel. The following day, two mortar shells were fired into Israel.
Meanwhile, Israeli forces continued to fire at Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. By June 27, the UN reported seven separate events in which Israeli Defense Force (IDF) soldiers fired upon Palestinian farmers trying to reach their fields. An elderly man was injured in one of the incidents.
A fifth rocket since the truce went into effect was fired at Israel on June 30. On July 1, Israeli settlers fired mortar shells at a West Bank village, and Israel barred a UN human rights committee from visiting Palestinian territories. Prasad Kariyawasam, headed of the UN Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, said that the Israeli siege of Gaza had increased the humanitarian crisis there. “Such policies and practices affecting Palestinian people are a serious threat to self-determination of the Palestinian people and must be halted immediately,” Kariyawasam said.
Israeli soldiers shot and injured a Palestinian woman in Gaza and announced that the IDF would fire upon any Palestinian entering into what it declared a “special security zone” within Gaza near the border with Israel. Essentially, Israel has declared that it will continually violate the cease-fire with impunity by firing at farmers and other Palestinians attempting to reach their own land, while stating that it will hold Hamas responsible for any violations by other militant groups.
At the same time, Israel tightened the siege of Gaza even further, shutting key crossings and allowing no needed goods to enter the territory.
Israel, while acting in every manner to ensure that the cease-fire is unsustainable, has threatened a full-scale military invasion of Gaza should the truce fail.
To date, Hamas has not violated the truce agreement.