TEL AVIV – Israel and the Gaza-ruling terror group Hamas are said to be on the verge of reaching a ceasefire agreement, an Israeli official told the Los Angeles Times.
Israel did not confirm the report.
Israel and Hamas are said to have been involved in Egypt and UN-brokered efforts to come to a long-term truce. On Thursday, Hamas declared a ceasefire, which it said was negotiated by Egypt and the UN.
The ceasefire came in the wake of two intense days of fighting that saw Gaza terrorists firing over 180 rockets, injuring at least seven people and causing damage to private and commercial property, as well as infrastructure throughout southern Israel.
Moments after a Hamas official announced the ceasefire, Israel was hit with a fresh barrage of rockets from the Strip.
Just as Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman met with senior officials to decide whether to ease the closure on the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, four arson balloons launched from the coastal enclave were found in Kibbutz Erez in southern Israel but failed to spark a blaze.
According to a defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity, among other things Israel may reopen the Kerem Shalom Crossing into Gaza and extend the fishing zone of the coast as long as there were no rockets, incendiary devices or other forms of terror emanating from the Strip.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Hamas that Israel will continue to do whatever is necessary to combat the terrorism coming from the Gaza Strip and will accept nothing less than a blanket ceasefire.
Also on Sunday, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said Israel could oust Hamas from the Strip.
“Toppling Hamas is an option, and we are closer to it than ever,” the Likud minister told the Kan public broadcaster.
The following day Channel 10 news reported that Netanyahu had met with President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi in Egypt to discuss the terms of the ceasefire.
Meanwhile, Liberman warned that Israel’s next round of conflict with the Hamas terror group was a “matter of when, not if.”
“I am sure that we will do what we must how we must,” Liberman said.
Israeli officials have said that “quiet will be met by quiet” and Israel is not seeking to enter another conflict with Hamas.
“Hamas understands very well what it has lost in the past few months; it can’t ignore it,” a senior IDF officer told the Haaretz newspaper.