Israel has made it clear that it is not currently seeking a ceasefire with Gaza’s terror groups despite a number of proposals raised to halt the fighting, according to a Saturday report.
Channel 12 news said that several initiatives have been proposed to end the violence, but Israel’s political leadership favors several more days of fighting to enable the IDF to complete the missions it wants to carry out against Hamas in Gaza. There were no further details given on those objectives.
“This is not the time for a ceasefire. We are continuing,” an unnamed senior Israeli source is quoted as saying by the network.
At the same time, the source said, it was clear that there would be ceasefire discussions in the coming week because although Israel believes it still has diplomatic room for maneuver, there is an awareness that this is not unlimited, the report said.
Meanwhile, after initially being cautiously optimistic about a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas over the weekend, a diplomatic source familiar with the negotiations told The Times of Israel on Saturday that the intense violence over the past 24 hours will likely delay such an agreement “by a few days.”
The comments came after the source, who spoke to The Times of Israel on condition of anonymity, said Friday that mediators had expressed cautious optimism for a halt within days of fighting between the Israel Defense Forces and Gaza-based fighters led by the Hamas terror group.
Gaza terror groups have made it clear that they are ready for an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire and will abide by it if the Israeli retaliatory strikes on Gaza stop, according to a report on the Saudi Al-Arabiya channel cited by the Ynet news site on Saturday. Other Hebrew media reports have suggested Hamas — which believes it has achieved victories throughout this conflict, including by asserting itself as the Palestinian protector of Jerusalem, rocketing Israel incessantly for days, forcing the closure of the airport, helping incite Arab-Jewish violence inside Israel, and marginalizing the Palestinian Authority — will probably seek ceasefire conditions, including demands regarding Jerusalem, that Israel is unlikely to accept.
Hamas’s Khaled Mashaal told a Turkish news agency Friday that the terror group is ready for a ceasefire but has not received a response from Israel.
He said the US and Russia were involved in the talks. Another Hamas official told the Arabic al-Meyadeen outlet that there had not been any progress in negotiations.
An Egyptian intelligence official with knowledge of the talks told the Associated Press that Israel rejected an Egyptian proposal for a yearlong truce with Hamas and other Gaza militants, which would have started at midnight Thursday had Israel agreed. He said Hamas had accepted the proposal.
Egypt has been playing a major role in the current efforts to end the violence, holding calls with Hamas officials as well as Qatar, the US and other countries, though not with Israel directly, another official told The Times of Israel.
US Deputy Assistant Secretary for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr arrived in Tel Aviv Friday, on a visit that was scheduled before the eruption of violence.
US President Joe Biden spoke with both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday.
The Prime Minister’s Office said that Netanyahu reassured Biden that Israel was doing everything it could to minimize civilian casualties in Gaza. The White House said Biden “reaffirmed his strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza,” but also expressed worries about dangers posed to journalists in the conflict zone and stressed the Palestinians’ right to freedom and security under a two-state solution.
Palestinian terrorists in Gaza have fired over 2,300 rockets toward Israel since the outbreak of fighting on Monday, according to the Israel Defense Forces.
Ten Israelis, including a young child, have been killed in the rocket fire, and hundreds have been injured.
In Gaza, the toll from the fighting climbed to 145 on Saturday, including dozens of children, with over 1,000 wounded, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.
The Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups have confirmed 20 deaths in their ranks, though Israel says that number is much higher and that dozens of those killed were terrorists. In addition, the IDF says some deaths were caused by errant rockets fired at Israel which fell short of their targets and landed in the Strip.
The conflict represents the fourth major military campaign since Israel unilaterally pulled civilians and troops out of the coastal enclave in 2005, and the first since 2014. There have also been smaller flareups in the intervening period, many of them halted after Egyptian mediation.