Egypt On Gaza: Israel Will Halt Military Action 'Within Hours'

Egypt On Gaza: Israel Will Halt Military Action 'Within Hours'

Egypt On Gaza: Israel Will Halt Military Action 'Within Hours'

An outcome of talks to halt violence between Israel and militants in Gaza could come as early as Tuesday, a Hamas spokesman said.

"It's in the hands now of the Israelis," Osama Hamdan, Hamas spokesman in Beirut, told CNN. After negotiation efforts by Egypt, "It's in the hands now of the Israelis. I think the Egyptians are waiting for some support, promised support, from the United States in order to make an end for that. So we expect to have an outcome of this issue today as President Morsy has said."

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy said earlier, "The travesty of the Israel aggression on Gaza will end in a few hours." Israel did not immediately confirm any plans to halt military actions, a response to numerous rocket attacks from militants in Gaza that have long plagued Israel.

Egypt has been working to negotiate a cease-fire to end the seven days of intense righting, but Morsy did not say what his statement was based on. An Israeli official said earlier that Israel was holding off on a ground offensive to give diplomatic efforts time.

While Israeli troops are ready near the Gaza border, Israel has decided "to give time - limited time - for a diplomatic solution" before potentially launching a ground offensive, an Israeli official close to the negotiations said. "That solution must result in no more Hamas rockets fired on Israel."

Hamda, the Hamas spokesman in Lebanon, said Hamas' actions have been "a good lesson for the Israeli government. It's not good to attack the Palestinians, expecting that they will not react against the attack." Asked whether Hamas would accept Israel's right to exist, Hamdan said the Palestinian people would not consider it without an end to occupation.

Earlier in the day, Mohammed al-Deif, a commander of the al Qassam Brigades - Hamas' military wing - said of Israel, "The ground operation that they keep threatening of waging will be the greatest hope to release our prisoners." He said the brigades' operation "will be the starting point for the next phase to liberate Palestine."

On Twitter, the brigades quoted him as saying the "Zionist enemy would pay high price for his crimes in Gaza." U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is on her way to the region, in its seventh day of a deadly conflict punctuated by huge explosions that have triggered fear on both sides.

She planned meetings in Jerusalem, Ramallah in the West Bank and Egypt. The United States - like Israel - does not meet with Hamas. The two countries and numerous others consider Hamas a terrorist organization. The Palestinian government in the West Bank is run by the Palestinian faction Fatah, not Hamas.

But despite talk of a possible cease-fire, attacks Tuesday showed there was no immediate sign of a cease-fire. Eleven Hamas rockets came flying into the Israeli city of Beer Sheva, causing casualties, CNN's Wolf Blitzer reported from the city. More than 30 rockets were fired into the area Tuesday, but most were destroyed by Israel's Iron Dome interceptors.

Sirens sounded in Jerusalem after a rocket was fired in that direction from Gaza, but no casualties were reported. "The rocket fired toward Jerusalem missed the city but hit an open area in a Palestinian village," the Israel Defense Forces said on Twitter.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was among those who had to take cover. Ban is in Jerusalem pushing for an end to the violence. He scheduled meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank.

In Tel Aviv, a man with an ax attacked a U.S. Embassy security guard, Israeli police said. The attacker, who also had a knife, was arrested, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

Meanwhile, a strike by Israel "targeted two terrorists in the northern Gaza Strip," and a "direct hit was confirmed," the IDF said. Israeli military forces also "targeted a terrorist squad in Gaza that was preparing to fire rockets at Israel," the IDF said.

The IDF again dropped leaflets across parts of Gaza warning residents to evacuate their homes and go to central Gaza City. The leaflets told them which way to go and what part of the city to stay in once they arrived.

The leaflets are part of Israel's efforts to minimize civilian casualties, Israeli officials say. Many people CNN has spoken to in Gaza said they want the violence to stop. An Arab League delegation, meanwhile, arrived in Gaza from Egypt to visit some stricken areas. Throughout Tuesday, a fresh barrage of airstrikes pummeled Gaza.

The Israel Defense Forces said it targeted 100 sites overnight, "including underground rocket launchers, terror tunnels and ammunition storage facilities." The IDF said the "terror tunnels" were used as hideouts by Hamas operatives. Israel has sent at least 1,350 airstrikes to Gaza, the IDF said.

The Gaza Ministry of Health said five people were killed Tuesday morning, including a child in northern Gaza. The ministry said 114 Palestinians have been killed and more than 900 injured since the latest hostilities erupted seven days ago.

Officials have not said how many militants were killed. Three Israelis have been killed and more than 70 have been injured, Israeli officials said. Soldiers are among the wounded, including five struck by a rocket from Gaza on Tuesday, the IDF said.

"The mere fact that Hamas shoots a rocket at Jerusalem - it says more about them that it does about anything else," Israeli spokesman Mark Regev told CNN on Tuesday after the sirens had stopped sounding in the city. He pointed out that Jerusalem has Jewish neighborhoods, Arab neighborhoods and other communities.

"No government on this planet would sit by idly and see its civilian population targeted the way the Israeli population has been targeted," he said.

Iran is arming Hamas with rockets, he said, echoing remarks by Israeli President Shimon Peres on CNN. Gaza has endured a crippling economic embargo since Hamas won control of the territory from the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority after a landslide 2007 election that was followed by intra-Palestinian clashes.

Many Arab and Muslim nations view Hamas as the victim of Israeli aggression. Diplomats hope to avoid a repeat of 2008, when at least 1,400 people died when Israeli troops invaded Gaza after a similar spate of rocket attacks.


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