Late on Wednesday, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal rejected a ceasefire unless the blockade of Gaza is lifted, and the Israeli cabinet met to discuss expanding the ground op against Hamas’s rockets, tunnels, and infrastructure. Earlier 30,000 attended the funeral of US-born soldier Max Steinberg in Jerusalem, as other funerals took place elsewhere in Israel. The IDF death toll rose to 32, with another soldier MIA presumed dead and claimed by Hamas to be in its hands. After a day and a half of chaos for passengers at Ben-Gurion airport and around the world, US officials lifted a ban Thursday morning on flights to Tel Aviv.
IDF-Hamas fighting in Gaza remains intensive, Hamas is still trying to carry out attacks in Israel through tunnels — a major tunnel found Wednesday contained maps and weaponry for an imminent attack — and rockets are still being fired.
Hamas is not about to fold; like Israel, it’s sure it’s winning
Heavy fighting at border in central Gaza
In a defiant appearance broadcast live from Qatar, Hamas’s political leader Khaled Mashaal said Wednesday evening that his Islamist movement would not agree to an interim ceasefire in Gaza followed by negotiations on its demands, as proposed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
He asserted that while the United States had promised Hamas guarantees that its concerns would be addressed once a truce was declared, such promises had been made in the past and were “not reassuring.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared that Israel wants to see Hamas disarmed after the conclusion of the war, but Mashaal said his movement would only lay down its weapons if Israel, too, disarmed and ended the occupation.
He also reiterated Hamas’s demand that the blockage on Gaza be lifted, and called for urgent humanitarian assistance from the Arab world. Israel and Egypt maintain a security blockade of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, to prevent the smuggling of weaponry.
He justified the indiscriminate targeting of Israel with rockets — more than 2,000 have been fired from Gaza al over Israel in the past 16 days — by claiming that Israelis were not civilians but rather armed settlers. He called for the release of prisoners, an end to peace negotiations, and a halt to Palestinian security coordination with Israel.
A 'Humanitarian' Ceasefire Would Give Hamas Time To Find Answers For Israel's Chariot-4's Windbreaker Armor
Thursday, July 24, the 17th day of the IDF’s Gaza operation, Israeli ministers were discussing a possible “humanitarian ceasefire” in IDF-Hamas hostilities, which could last up to five days.
Hamas which, behind its tough stance, is keen on a pause – and not just out of sudden concern for Gaza’s civilians. Its tacticians are desperate to find a chink in the Chariot-4 tank’s Armored Shield Protection-Active Trophy missile defense system, known as the Windbreaker. The 401st armored brigade is the only IDF unit with this armor.
Hamas has tried to stop these tanks with two kinds of advanced guided anti-tank missiles, the Russian Kornet-E, and the Concord. But Windbreaker repels them and blows them all up.
Wednesday July 23 the IDF deliberately placed brigade commander Col. Sa'ar Tzur, one of the outstanding commanders in Operation Protective Edge, before TV cameras, while standing in front of a Chariot-4 tank.
He spoke at length about the brigade’s unstoppable performance under anti-tank missile fire. Those missiles are blown up without penetrating the tanks’ armor, he said, and are powerless to slow their advance.
Hamas has found no answer for the Active Trophy defense system, any more than it has for the Iron Dome anti-missile defense batteries, which keep Israeli civilian populations safe from its rockets. Both systems are home-made, developed by Rafael advanced armed systems industries.
While its forces have taken serious punishment, most of Hamas’ underground command and military infrastructure is still far from knocked out. But if the Israeli military decides to go for a decisive coup against those core facilities – defined by the Israeli security cabinet’s euphemism of "expanding the operation” - Hamas chiefs expect it to be spearheaded by a fleet of Chariot-4 tanks hurtling towards them behind the protection of their impenetrable “Windbreakers.”
To maintain any kind of draw with the IDF, Hamas stands in urgent need of two resources: 1) Technology for neutralizing the Windbreaker; and 2) Missiles able to pierce it.
While Khaled Meshal haggles with ceasefire brokers in Qatar, his agents are known to have appealed urgently to Tehran to find the weapons they need and deliver them at top speed to the Gaza Strip – possibly from Libya by the Iranian-terrorists’ arms smuggling route through Egypt.