Hamas officials maintain they have rejected an Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire with Israel. At 9:00am Wednesday Israel halted its attack on militants in Gaza, but Palestinians used the cease-fire to launch 47 rockets.
The Palestinian death toll has now surpassed 200 according to the Wall Street Journal.
Israel warned some 100,000 residents with leaflets and voice messages to evacuate the region in advance of a possible ground attack.
“There is no reason to be concerned by them or pay attention to them and by no means should they be heeded,” Hamas Ministry of Interior spokesman wrote on the group’s Facebook page.
Itamar Marcus, director of Palestinian Watch, claims Hamas leaders have encouraged civilians to return to their homes and act as human shields.
“In a striking talk on Hamas TV, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri belittled the Palestinians who are counting the ‘number of Martyrs,’ calling them ‘defeatists,’” said Marcus. “He argued that those ‘defeatists’ should consider the current situation in light of the history of Algeria, which he said lost 45,000 people in one day in 1945. He then made a slip of the tongue in speaking about the population in Gaza: ‘We are leading them to death," he said, then quickly corrected himself: "I mean, to confrontation.’”
Palestinian Media Watch has reported in the past that using civilians as human shields is a strategy of choice for Hamas, which is why it places missiles near homes and mosques.
In recent days Israel has threatened a ground invasion of Gaza calling up some 40,000 Israeli troops if Hamas doesn’t end its rocket attacks.
Publication date: July 16, 2014