Just a day after Hamas dared Israel to send a ground attack into the Gaza Strip, Hamas has said that Egypt had put together a ceasefire deal set to declare at 9:00 p.m. Israel time. Hamas has been hurt militarily by the ongoing Israeli targeted attacks on Hamas targets; hence their sudden eagerness for a ceasefire.
But Israel denied that a ceasefire had been put into place. “We’re not there yet,” said Mark Regev, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “The ball’s still in play.”
With Secretary of State Hillary Clinton headed to the region, Hamas and Egypt have a strong incentive to unilaterally declare a ceasefire for public consumption, even as Hamas re-arms for their next prospective attacks on Israel. Thus Egyptian President and Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi has stated that “the farce of Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip will end on Tuesday,” saving face while attempting to stop backlash against Egyptian support for Hamas.
But Israel has no such incentive, since the threat from Hamas-occupied Gaza has not been ended. Israel is insisting on at least 24 hours of calm before any ceasefire can be considered. As Netanyahu told UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, “”If a long-term solution can be put in place through diplomatic means, then Israel would be a willing partner to such a solution. But if stronger military action proves necessary to stop the constant barrage of rockets, Israel will do what is necessary to defend our people.” Minister of Defense Ehud Barak told Israeli troops, “Hamas will not disappear but the memory of this experience will remain with it for a very long time and this is what will restore deterrence …. Quiet has not yet been achieved and so we are continuing (the offensive) … there are also diplomatic contacts — ignore that, you are here so that if the order for action must be given – you will act.”
According to some reports, the US and Egypt would combine to stop weapons smuggling to Gaza as part of any ceasefire deal.