WASHINGTON – The United States views Hamas as responsible for the violation of a renewed temporary truce in the Gaza Strip, and is “very concerned” about the resumption of rocket attacks, a State Department spokeswoman said Tuesday afternoon.
“We are very concerned about today’s development and condemn the renewed rocket fire,” Marie Harf said while briefing reporters. She noted that the US had confirmed that rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip, and that “Hamas has security responsibility for Gaza.”
Harf reiterated that the US supports Israel’s right to defend itself against terror attacks from Gaza, arguing that one of the main reasons to seek a ceasefire was to allow humanitarian officials into Gaza to assess damage and work toward repairing the area’s infrastructure. The US, she said, is waiting to “begin cooperating” with other international parties for humanitarian reconstruction of the area.
Stressing that the US “continues to follow” internal Israeli investigations into IDF activities during Operation Defensive Edge, Harf had harsh words for Palestinian attempts to bring war crimes allegations and seek damages against Israel through membership in international bodies, such as the International Criminal Court. She warned that if, as he has threatened to do, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas seeks ICC recognition for the Palestinian Authority, it “would undermine what Palestinians are trying to achieve.”
Even if the Palestinians were to refer Israel to the ICC, she said, she “personally cannot imagine a scenario in which the US would not veto” any Security Council vote to refer Israel to the ICC for a war crimes investigation.
During the briefing, Harf downplayed – but did not altogether deny – reports that Secretary of State John Kerry would visit the region to try to cement a ceasefire agreement that would include US commitments to aid in Gazan reconstruction.
Earlier this week, Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth quoted government sources as saying Kerry would visit Israel next week to show Washington’s support for Israel in light of recent reports that relations between the two capitals had reached unprecedented levels of tension.
According to the report, Israel and the US had hammered out details for a long-term ceasefire deal that included a gradual opening of land crossings to Gaza, followed by allowing maritime traffic directly to the coastal region. In addition, the report suggested that Israel will stop blocking the transfer of funds to pay salaries of civil workers in the Hamas-governed territory, and will not block international reconstruction efforts.
While not denying the reports altogether, Harf said that she had “no travel plans to announce.”