Israel, Hamas Teams in Cairo for Cease-Fire 'Shuttle Diplomacy'
Reports Thursday morning said that Israeli and Hamas negotiating teams had arrived in Cairo to discuss the cease-fire proposed by Egypt. The cease-fire was first proposed by Egypt Tuesday night and was accepted unilaterally by Israel, as Hamas continued to pound Israel with rocket fire. Later Wednesday, Israel responded to the Hamas attacks, striking back at terror targets in Gaza.
On Wednesday night, the UN called for a “humanitarian cease-fire” that would last for six hours, to enable Gaza residents to stock up on supplies, but the Egyptian proposal would set a more long-term cease-fire. Israel and Hamas do not speak directly; reports said that an Israeli and Hamas team were in the same hotel in Cairo Thursday, with Egyptian officials shuttling between the rooms, presenting proposals and counter-proposals.
Meanwhile, despite the UN cease-fire, which Israel agreed to, Hamas continued firing rockets Thursday morning. A barrage of rockets was fired at Beersheva. The Iron Dome system knocked out four of the missiles. No injuries have been reported.
A Hamas official said Thursday that Israel would have to “pay a price” if it wanted a cease-fire. Mohammed Nazel said that Israel “has to promise, with international guarantees, that they will stop attacking Gaza. Second, they have to open up all the passages between Gaza and the rest of the world. In addition they have to allow free movement in Gaza.”
Israeli officials have said publicly that their objective in Operation Protective Edge is to restore quiet to Israeli cities. But government sources quoted in the media over recent days said that Israel also had demands for implementing a cease-fire, specifically international supervision of the dismantling of Hamas' rocket and missile supply.
Shortly before 2:00 a.m. Thursday morning sirens were heard in the Eshkol region, Hof Ashkelon region, Ashdod, Kiryat Gat and Kiryat Malachi. Sirens were also heard in the Mateh Yehuda Regional Council, near Jerusalem. Three rockets exploded in open regions in the region, causing no physical injuries or damages. Several rockets from Gaza exploded in open areas in the Hof Ashkelon and Eshkol regions, causing no physical injuries or damages.
The Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepted one rocket over Kiryat Gat and one rocket over Kiryat Malachi. A third rocket exploded in an open region in Kiryat Malachi.