- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A fragile truce between Israel and Hamas crumbled Tuesday, as the Palestinian militant group fired rockets into the Jewish state and Israeli officials responded with airstrikes on the Gaza Strip and by withdrawing its negotiators from talks in Cairo.

Meanwhile, a U.S. senator is pressing for legislation to increase scrutiny of Iran, amid fresh reports that Tehran has been supplying missile technology to Hamas.

Hours before the cease-fire’s midnight deadline Tuesday, Israel’s negotiators walked out of the talks in Cairo, raising the specter of the resumption of the monthlong Gaza war in which nearly 2,000 Palestinians — mostly civilians — and dozens of troops, mostly Israelis, have been killed.

Israel’s military said 10 rockets from Gaza had fallen in its territory, adding that one damaged a coffee shop in the south. Palestinian officials in Gaza said that two people, including a 2-year-old girl, were killed and 21 others wounded in more than two dozen airstrikes by Israel.

In Washington, Sen. Mark Kirk introduced legislation in late July that would hold the Obama administration accountable for how Iran spends $2.8 billion in sanctions relief it was granted in exchange for its continued cooperation in nuclear negotiations.

His bill would require the administration to certify that Tehran is not using the money to support foreign terrorist groups, such as Hamas.

“Evidence is mounting that the Palestinian terrorist group, Hamas, is using Iranian-supplied rocket and missile technology to target Israeli civilians,” the Illinois Republican said Tuesday. “That’s why President Obama needs to ensure that Iran does not use any of the $2.8 billion in new sanctions relief to support Hamas and other terrorist organizations.”

Mr. Kirk’s comments followed a story by The Washington Times that Iran has kept up its material support of Hamas, including reported transfers of missile technology.

The possibility that Iran could misuse the sanctions relief to foster terrorism against a U.S. ally must be addressed, he said.

“This is a straightforward issue,” he said. “If President Obama cannot give to Congress and the American people clear assurances that Iran isn’t using billions in sanctions relief to support terrorism, nuclear proliferation, or missile proliferation that is endangering the United States and our closest allies, then Iran should not get that sanctions relief.”

Henry Sokolski, executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, said there is a “tremendous amount of incentive” for the administration to refrain from concern that the sanctions relief might be misused.

“If they get very excited about those things, the ability to negotiate with Iran in any fashion gets complicated,” he said.

Formerly the deputy of nonproliferation policy for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Mr. Sokolski said that Iran’s no-strings-attached sanctions relief is another “loud warning signal” that the Obama administration is willing to make significant compromises in order to strike a nuclear deal with Tehran.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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