Hamas called off a 16-month-old truce with Israel June 9 after attacks by Israeli forces in Gaza killed 10 Palestinians, including three children playing on a beach. “The Israeli massacres represent a direct opening battle,” Hamas said in a statement. Prime Minister Esmail Haniya, also a Hamas leader, called the deaths a “war crime” and urged Jordan and Egypt to intervene.
That same day, the Hamas-led Palestinian government made a last-minute appeal to President Mahmoud Abbas to abandon a proposed referendum on statehood that would implicitly recognise Israel. Abbas is expected to issue a presidential decree that will call for holding a referendum on the statehood proposal by July 31. (Reuters, June 10)
The escalation came days after Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and formally apologized for the incident in which two Egyptians security officers were killed by Israeli soldiers on the border June 2. The two leaders met at Sharm el-Sheikh in the Sinai. (YNet, June 4) Egypt condemned attacks on northern Gaza June 9, saying the excessive use of force by Israel in densely populated areas was against international law. (Reuters, June 9)