Israeli cabinet approves Egyptian truce plan
Hamas says it has no official reaction to the plan yet as Netanyahu warns rejection would lead to intensified campaign.
Israel’s cabinet has accepted an Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire to end a week of conflict in Gaza that has killed 192 Palestinians, but the Palestinian group Hamas has not officially reacted.
The office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the cabinet met on Tuesday morning and accepted the proposal, which came into effect at 9:00 local time (6:00 GMT) .
Hamas, the dominant group in Gaza, has acknowledged “diplomatic movement” on ending the conflict without yet formally accepting the proposal.
A Hamas official, Musa Mohammed Abu Marzouk, said in a statement that the group had “no official reaction to the Egyptian initiative.”
Netanyahu said Israel would intensify its military campaign in Gaza, if Hamas rejected the ceasefire.
Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, welcomed the initiative. He said he valued the Egyptian efforts and called on all parties to commit so as to preserve Palestinian blood.
The plan calls for a ceasefire to begin within 12 hours of “unconditional acceptance” by all sides, followed by the opening of Gaza’s border crossings and talks in Cairo within two days.
Al Jazeera’s John Hendren, reporting from Gaza, said Hamas leaders were still debating the proposals and wanted to make sure “they got something” out of the truce.
“They want to end the siege, end the blockade, and want fishing lanes expanded,” he said.
The group’s armed wing, the Qassam Brigades, rejected the proposal, according to its official website, but Hendren said the group’s political arm would have its way.
The Qassam Brigades said on Tuesday that it had not been sent details about the “alleged initiative” from any side, “officially or unofficially”.
The statement said that excerpts published in the media showed it was an initiative of “bowing and submission”, and added “it was not worth the ink it was written with”.
“Our battle with the enemy will continue and will increase in ferocity and intensity,” it added.
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Khaled al-Batch, a senior leader of Islamic Jihad, another armed group active in Gaza, said the group welcomed “Egypt’s role and efforts to end the Israeli aggression and defend the Palestinian people” but that it would not accept the ceasefire without conditions.
“It is not acceptable to start observing a ceasefire for short term then negotiate the terms. We have experienced this in the past and it has failed,” he said.
“What is needed now is to agree on the demands of the Palestinian people, chiefly ending the siege and opening the border crossing, then a zero hour can be agreed upon. Otherwise, history will repeat itself, period.”
Egypt’s state news agency said on Monday that US Secretary of State John Kerry was due to fly to Cairo to discuss the situation, and US President Barack Obama said he was “encouraged” by Egypt’s proposal for a ceasefire.
At least 192 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict so far, and the UN has said that at least 80 percent of the casualties have been civilians.
At least 10 Israelis have been injured by rockets fired from Gaza. No Israeli fatalities have been recorded.