Egypt and Israel are engaged in a war of words over a possible ceasefire as Hamas continues to attack Israeli civilians and Israel retaliates.
Hamas also is reportedly divided over terms of a truce, which its officials have insisted include Israel’s removing the maritime embargo, which is designed to prevent or at least limit the smuggling of advanced weapons into Gaza.
Behind the scenes is Egypt, trying to play the role of honest broker while at the same the Muslim Brotherhood regime blames Israel for “aggression.”
Hamas terrorists, still called “militants” by mainstream media, said they are waiting for Israel to respond to the Egyptian-Hamas ceasefire proposal. Its terms have not been disclosed.
Optimistic negotiators had initially said that a deal could be announced in Cairo later Tuesday following days of negotiations brokered by an Egyptian government that is keen to make sure the unrest does not spill over to its volatile Sinai territory, AFP reported.
Islamic Jihad boasted Tuesday that there would be “a joint press conference between Hamas and Islamic Jihad and the Egyptian mediators tonight to announce the truce,” but Hamas later said in a statement that Israel had still not responded to the Palestinian proposal.
Israel has made it clear that it will not repeat previous mistakes of agreeing to a ceasefire that does not hold. Tzipi Livni, when she was Foreign Minister in the Olmert government, agreed to end Operation Cast Lead in 2009 based on guarantees of a halt to smuggling, which not only continued afterwards but also increased.
Medium-range Fajr missiles, smuggled from Iran and Hizbullah, have enabled Hamas to reach deeper into Israel, striking as far north as Tel Aviv and the Jerusalem area.
Israeli television also cited local diplomatic sources as saying that a truce announcement would probably have to wait at least until Wednesday.
Hamas continued attacking Israel Wednesday morning, launching rockets at the Ashdod and Sderot areas. None of the rockets hit their targets, and the Iron Dome system intercepted at least two of them.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his key ministers decided in a closed-door meeting late Monday to place “a temporary hold on a ground incursion to give diplomacy a chance to succeed,” a senior Israeli official told AFP.