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Netanyahu vows Hamas will suffer after cease-fire is rejected

JERUSALEM — Plans for a truce devolved into threats of a wider war Tuesday as the first significant attempt to end more than a week's worth of round-the-clock fire between Israel and Hamas ended before it had begun.

The unraveling of an Egyptian cease-fire proposal offered little immediate hope for a diplomatic solution to a conflict that has left more than 190 Palestinians in Gaza dead and that on Tuesday claimed its first Israeli fatality.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave the military authorization to use "full force" against militants in Gaza and vowed that Hamas and its allies would suffer for their decision not to halt their rocket fire.

"Hamas chose to continue fighting and will pay the price for that decision," Netanyahu said in a televised address Tuesday.

Netanyahu was under pressure from his right flank to authorize a risky ground invasion of Gaza aimed at ending Hamas' reign as the power in the coastal strip. Reflecting tensions within his government, Netanyahu fired his deputy defense minister for publicly accusing the Cabinet of not moving aggressively enough against Hamas.

The Islamist militant group also showed signs of internal strain, with its military wing vowing to escalate the conflict even as a top political leader said the group was considering Egypt's cease-fire plan.

The proposal, offered late Monday night, called for Israel and Hamas to stop firing Tuesday without preconditions, and then launch talks in Cairo within 48 hours.

Israel's security cabinet approved the deal Tuesday morning, and Israel stopped firing into Gaza at 9 a.m. local time. But Hamas officials balked at the proposal, saying they had never been consulted. The rocket fire from Gaza continued unabated, and Israel resumed military operations in the territory at 3 p.m.

The failure of the initiative reflected the absence of a diplomatic player with both the clout and credibility to mediate the crisis. That role has traditionally been played by Egypt. But the country's military-backed government is deeply hostile to Hamas, an Islamist militant off-shoot of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, which Cairo authorities consider a terrorist organization.

Israelis carry the remains of a rocket fired from Gaza into the Israeli city of Ashkelon on Tuesday. An Egyptian plan to end the battle that has killed more than 190 Palestinians unraveled.

Associated Press

Israelis carry the remains of a rocket fired from Gaza into the Israeli city of Ashkelon on Tuesday. An Egyptian plan to end the battle that has killed more than 190 Palestinians unraveled.

Netanyahu vows Hamas will suffer after cease-fire is rejected 07/15/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 16, 2014 12:10am]
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