Hamas has offered to stop attacking Israel for one year if Israel will open its western Negev crossings to Gaza, Egyptian officials announced Thursday night. The group demands that Israel withdraw its troops from Gaza within one week and refrain from any and all operations in the area while the ceasefire lasts.
Also on Thursday night, Hamas's Az a-Din el-Kuds Brigades, a branch of the Hamas armed forces, said they would take revenge for the death of Hamas minister Said Siyam. Siyam was killed in an Israeli airstrike on Thursday evening along with his brother, another senior Hamas leader.
“His blood was not shed in vain. The response will be expressed in deeds, not words,” Hamas terrorists threatened.
Egyptian media sources reported earlier in the evening that Israel had in principle accepted an Egyptian ceasefire proposal. Israeli officials demanded certain changes to the plan, Egyptian diplomats said. Those demands will be presented to Hamas leaders in upcoming meetings.
Senior Defense Ministry official Major-General Amos Gilad returned from Cairo on Thursday after meeting with Egyptian diplomats to discuss progress in ceasefire talks with Hamas. Gilad met with Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to discuss the issue. The ministers are reportedly split on whether to seek a ceasefire at the current time.
Crossings Opened in exchange for Shalit?
According to Channel 10 news, Israel is willing to open Gaza crossings as part of the ceasefire deal. In exchange, Hamas would be required to reduce its demands regarding the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. The group is currently demanding the release of over 1,000 terrorists, including senior terrorists who bear direct responsibility for multiple murders.
If Hamas scales back its demands, a deal could be reached that would lead to Shalit's release, political analysts say. Barak met with Noam Shalit, Gilad's father, on Thursday, apparently to discuss developments in Gaza and the negotiations with Hamas.