It's back to square one

By Anshel Pfeffer, August 21, 2014
Targeted: Hamas chief Deif

Targeted: Hamas chief Deif

A rocket attack on Israel and a subsequent attempt by the IDF to assassinate Hamas military chief Mohammed Deif have spelt the end of ceasefire talks and a return to full-scale warfare.

There was no official confirmation of Deif's death but, off-the-record, Israeli officials said that they believed the mastermind of Hamas's terror operations had been killed in an airstrike on his home in Gaza on Tuesday night that killed his wife and baby son.

According to some reports, bunker-busting bombs were used in the attack on the Hamas chieftain who was believed to be hiding in an underground shelter.

Hamas spokesman Abu Obeida claimed that Israel had made "an intelligence failure". He was ambiguous, however, over whether Deif had been killed and said instead, "he will lead us to Al Aqsa Mosque".

Hamas did not present any evidence that their leader was alive, nor any details on the identity of an additional body removed from the destroyed building. Deif survived at least four previous Israeli assassination attempts.

Gaza City is hit by an Israeli air strike

Gaza City is hit by an Israeli air strike

Obeida called on the Palestinian delegation to leave Cairo where it had been trying to work out a ceasefire agreement, and warned foreign airlines that the movement would target Ben Gurion Airport from 6am on Thursday morning.

The ceasefire broke down on Tuesday afternoon when rockets were launched at Israel without warning and while the talks were still ongoing in Cairo. According to at least one Palestinian source, Hamas unilaterally pulled out of the talks and resumed firing after the Qatari government, which has remained the organisation's sole backer and funder, refused to endorse an agreement which gave the Gulf state no role in the proposed long-term ceasefire arrangements.

Over 150 rockets and mortar shells were fired at Israel in the 24 hours after the ceasefire ended. There were no Israeli casualties and a number of rockets were intercepted by Iron Dome. Others fell in open areas and caused no damage. The Israeli air force carried out over 100 attacks on Hamas targets. According to Palestinian sources, 22 people were killed in Gaza and over 100 wounded.

While Israel is not expected to renew its ground offensive in Gaza, large forces remained deployed around the Strip and 2,000 reservists have been recalled to service.

One of the main concerns within Israel now is that the rocket fire will continue into next week and disrupt the start of a new school year. The start of the football season may have to be postponed as the Home Command believes it is too risky to hold matches with thousands of spectators.

Last updated: 3:08pm, August 21 2014