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Israel-Palestine Live Coverage (13 November): Deadly Clashes in Gaza --- Does Hamas Have a Plan?

1945 GMT: Although the Palestine Liberation Organization has already secured the majority of the members' consents ahead of the UN vote which is to take place on 29 November, the Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas wanted to take credit during the Arab League and European foreign ministers meeting in Cairo. 

A joint statement on the endorsement of the UN bid did not come out but the Cairo Declaration called for a negotiated two-state solution and blamed only West Bank settlements and Israel’s security barrier as obstacles.

1900 GMT: Egypt's ruling Muslim Brother accused Israeli government of heating up the conflict with Gazan factions to score political points ahead of elections.

1640 GMT: The inner security cabinet agreed not to fire on the Gaza Strip as long as the rocket fire stops. PM Netanyahu warned:

Whoever thinks that he can routinely attack the daily lives of the residents of the South without paying a heavy price – is mistaken. I am responsible for choosing the right time to exact the highest possible price and so it will be.

1555 GMT: The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine says that Hamas security forces arrested six protesters at a women-led demonstration demanding national reconciliation.

1535 GMT: The military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza, the Salah a-Din Brigades, released a video purporting to show Saturday's attack on an IDF jeep near the Israel-Gaza border.

1500 GMT: The Netanyahu government doubled the portion of Israel's national budget allocated to Jewish settlements in the West Bank settlements, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said in an interview on Monday.

1430 GMT: Two rockets fired from Gaza hit Askelon coast.

1205 GMT: China supports the Palestinian UN bid. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said:

China understands, respects and supports the Palestinians' request to enter the United Nations.


China always supports the Palestinian people's just cause of recovering their national and legitimate rights and interests, and will always hold that independent statehood is the lawful right of Palestinian people, and also the basis for a two-state solution.

1145 GMT: In an interview with CNN, Israeli President Shimon Peres said: "If they want that Gaza mothers can sleep at night, they must understand that all mothers want to sleep at night with their babies."


1130 GMT: Defense Minister Ehud Barak visited the IDF's Gaza Division and held a security evaluation with army chiefs. Barak said:

Hamas and the terror organizations are absorbing heavy blows in Gaza as a result.


This clearly isn't over and we will decide how and when to act the minute there will be a need to do so.

1100 GMT: In a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Interior Minister Eli Yishai said:

Before Israel determines the timing and strength of its response, I request your immediate intervention to deter and stop the terrorist activity of the decision-makers in Gaza.

1035 GMT: Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with the security cabinet to discuss possible military responses. According to Army Radio, the government is likely to order the assassination of the leaders of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees and other group.


1000 GMT: After another rocket landed near Ashdod, Israeli jets hit three rocket launching sites in northern Gaza.

0635 GMT: On Sunday, a Syrian mortar shell crashed in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, which led to an Israeli “warning shot” at a Syrian position across the frontier for the first time in 39 years. The following day, Israeli tanks directly hit Syrian positions, reportedly injuring two soldiers, after another shell fell in the vicinity of an Israeli army post in the central Golan Heights.

0625 GMT: Last weekend, an anti-tank missile was fired from Gaza into southern Israel, wounding four Israeli soldiers. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) claimed responsibility for an attack which was far from the first incident --- bombs along the border with Gaza have been exploding for the past week.

Israel jets replied quickly, leaving at least five Palestinians dead. In less than a few hours, more than 30 rockets from Gaza fell over Israeli towns. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was furious:

I would like to add that the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] are operating, and will operate, aggressively against the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip, which are taking heavy blows from the IDF. The world needs to understand that Israel will not sit idly by in the face of attempts to attack us. We are prepared to intensify the response.

On Monday, a least 15 additional rockets were fired from Gaza. Netanyahu continued his commitment to an escalation: "The world needs to understand that Israel has the right and duty to defend its citizens.” Netanyahu said that, while the smaller Gaza groups were executing the launches, Hamas was "encouraging the fire and coordinating it between the different organizations".


Late Monday, Hamas gathered the representatives of militant groups and declared a ceasefire, conditional on “the end of Israeli aggression”. Meanwhile, two more rockets were launched towards Israel.

The timing of the incidents and Hamas' elevated role are important for two reasons:

First, ahead of the United Nations vote on upgrading the status of Palestine to an "Observer State", Hamas is sending a message to the Palestinian Authority and to Western powers. As much or even more than threatening West Jeruslaem-Ramallah relations, the UN recognition could damage Palestinian unity.

Hamas is showing --- especially if Israel resists the UN vote, and if the Palestinian Authority does not recognise Hamas' leading position in Gaza --- how far it can go in testing "stability" and, thus, sending the message to the West that it is essential to any resolution.

Hamas' second ambition may be to provoke the Netanyahu Government before the Israeli elections, even prompting a repeat of the invasion of Gaza of December 2008. Resistance to an attack will be used by Hamas to show that it is the true defender of Palestine.

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