A new 72-hour ceasefire in Gaza has been agreed between Israel and the Palestinians following mediation by Egypt, a Palestinian official said Sunday. Israel confirmed Sunday evening that the 72-hour truce will go into effect at midnight. According to Channel 2, the Israeli delegation will head to Cairo for talks Monday morning, if the fire from Gaza does indeed cease and the night is a quiet one.
Hamas played a double game Sunday, with its negotiators reportedly agreeing to a ceasefire in Cairo, and its terrorists in Gaza launching missiles at Israel. Israel insists that it will not negotiate under fire, but Hamas appeared to be trying to make it do so anyway.
A Hamas spokesman told AFP on Sunday that the Palestinians are examining a proposal for a new 72-hour ceasefire in Gaza.
"There is a proposal for another 72-hour truce (to allow) for the continuation of negotiations," Sami Abu Zuhri told AFP in Gaza, without saying when it would begin. "This proposal is being studied," he said, indicating the Palestinian response would depend on "the seriousness of the Israeli position".
His remarks came after Egyptian and Palestinian negotiators wrapped up a fresh round of talks in Cairo, saying they would issue a statement within the coming hours.
The Israeli delegation was currently locked in talks over "all the developments," an official told AFP, without ruling out the possibility the team could return to Cairo. "The delegation is sitting together to discuss all the developments," he said. "If they do, it will be this evening or tomorrow."
So far, Egyptian efforts to broker an end to more than a month of fighting have led nowhere, with Israel pulling its team out of talks in Cairo on Friday after Hamas refused to extend a 72-hour ceasefire.
Sirens in Ashkelon
Sirens sounded Sunday in Ashkelon, and communities in the Gaza Belt and the Eshkol region in southern Israel. The Iron Dome system successfully intercepted three rockets over the industrial area at Ashkelon. The rest fell in open spaces, without casualties or damage.
At the same time, the IDF has been attacking terror targets in Gaza. The IAF struck dozens of targets from southern to northern Gaza. In the early afternoon, an IAF aircraft attacked a terror activist who was preparing to fire a rocket at Israel, and a hit on the target was identified.
In Jordan, King Abdullah blamed Israel for the fighting, and said that it is “responsible for the aggression and the deadly campaign.” He said that the only way Israel could guarantee its security will be to conduct negotiations with the Palestinians, with the goal of establishing a Palestinian state.
The Defense Ministry said Sunday that it had closed down the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza, after a rocket scored a direct hit on it in the early afternoon. It was decided not to risk the lives of the workers and to shut down the crossing until further notice.
"After continuous and deliberate fire at the Kerem Shalom crossing, which almost hit trucks carrying flammable materials to Gaza, we reached the unusual decision to close the passage, in order to protect the workers and the merchants,” said the Crossings Authority. “The crossing remained open throughout the despite incessant fire in its vicinity, and was an exclusive artery for passage of goods and essential humanitarian equipment for Gaza.”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Operation Protective Edge is continuing. "No one announced its termination," he noted. "The campaign will continue until the mission is completed: an extended period of quiet in the South," he added, referring to Hamas escalation. "We said when the operation began and throughout the process: it will take time and patience."
Israel will also not acquiesce to international pressure, he said.
"Israel will not negotiate under fire," Netanyahu stressed. "Israel will continue to act in any way [necessary] to change the current situation and bring peace to all its citizens. We stand together in unity and determination, until we're finished [with the campaign]."
Meanwhile, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon has demanded Hamas's cooperation with a full cease-fire.
"If Hamas thinks it could exhaust us, it is wrong – we will return to negotiations only after the cease-fire," he said. "We will not compromise on a cease-fire and [an end to] terrorism."