Despite Secretary of State John Kerry‘s efforts to push a humanitarian cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, Israeli leaders rejected the proposal, citing the disappearance of one of its soldiers after a deadly battle on Sunday.
Overnight, Israeli forces hit more than 100 targets in eastern Gaza, including an Al Jazeera office.
The Israeli military officially declined the proposal by U.N. Special Envoy Robert Serry for a brief humanitarian cease-fire in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday.
According to the Washington Post, Serry sought a pause in fighting by both sides to allow ambulances to reach the wounded in areas under heavy bombardment and to let residents safely bury their dead, shop for supplies, and to relocate away from areas being shelled.
Hamas announced Sunday that it had captured an Israeli soldier, though Israel’s military cannot confirm whether the soldier is dead or alive. The development has surely complicated the diplomatic effort to stop the conflict that has left at least 604 Palestinians dead and more than 3,700 wounded since Israel began its Operation Protective Edge two weeks ago.
According to CNN, the United Nations has estimated that between 70% and 80% dead are civilians, including at least 120 children. Israel has reported that its forces have killed more than 180 militants. In total, 27 Israeli soldiers have died — more than double the number killed in the war with Hamas in 2008 and 2009.
Those numbers stand to rise in the coming weeks if a cease-fire is not reached.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said the Gaza military operation, which is now focused on finding and destroying underground tunnels, would continue “as long as necessary until the completion of the task and the return of the quiet in the whole of Israel.”
But the most senior Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniyeh, warned that “invaders” would find a graveyard awaiting them in Gaza. In a televised broadcast, Haniyeh said Hamas fighters would not put down their weapons until Israel and Egypt agree to open border crossings, ease travel and the flow of goods, and free Hamas members who were jailed after the killing of three Jewish teenagers in the West Bank last month.
“We’ll never go back to the slow death,” Haniyeh said. “Our demands are fair and they are humane. Our people have decided.”
Meanwhile, a CNN weekend poll revealed that the majority of Americans side with Israel in the Gaza conflict. In fact, Americans say Israel’s military actions in Gaza are justified, with only four in 10 saying that Israel has used too much force.
According to the poll, 57% of the public said the Israeli actions against Hamas, the Palestinian organization that runs Gaza, are justified, with just over a third saying they are unjustified.
The survey indicates that 38% have an unfavorable opinion of Israel, up 14 percentage points from February. Sixty percent said they have a favorable opinion of Israel, down from 72% in February. But that 60% favorable rating is three times higher than the 20% of Americans who have a positive view of the Palestinian Authority, the governing body that runs the West Bank.
The numbers are even more divided when politics are involved.
Forty-five percent of Democrats questioned said that Israeli’s military actions in Gaza are justified. That number jumps to 56% among independents and 73% among Republicans.
But those figures aren’t surprising, especially to The Daily Show‘s Jon Stewart (who has been accused of being pro-Hamas for expressing sympathy for the 600 plus dead).
He tackled the issue on Monday night’s show, enduring some intense chastising from his correspondents any time he uttered the world “Israel.”
“Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this,” Stewart said when the shouting subsided. “But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
You can watch the video below: