TEL AVIV—Israel accepted an Egyptian-proposed deal on Tuesday to end its week-old air war with Hamas, but the Islamist movement rejected a truce, saying it wasn’t consulted by Cairo.
In an early-morning meeting, Israel’s security cabinet approved the cease-fire, which calls for a de-escalation of fighting by both sides starting at 9 a.m. local time on Tuesday, with hostilities ending within 12 hours.
At a news conference at a hospital in Gaza City, a Hamas official said his group wouldn’t observe the cease-fire terms proposed by the Egyptian government because no one had conferred with them.
“We don’t like the policy pushing us into a corner,” said spokesman Samy Abu Zohry. Hamas was fighting for Palestinians, not a cease-fire, he said.
In Vienna, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry welcomed Israel’s decision to accept the Egyptian plan and encouraged Hamas to do the same.
“The Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire and negotiations provides an opportunity to end the violence and restore calm,” Mr. Kerry said.
As Israel and Hamas positioned themselves for a possible end to their third major military confrontation in five years, both made it clear they were prepared to fight up to the last moment.
Explosions were heard across Gaza City, and rocket salvos fired from the coastal strip struck the Israeli towns of Ashkelon, Ashdod and Kiriyat Melachi, the Israeli military said. Four of the Palestinian projectiles were intercepted by the Iron Dome antimissile system, it added. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.
A spokesman for the Israeli military, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, said Israel would respond to attacks from Hamas but “in accordance with the government directives, the IDF now holds fire.”
“We remain alert and preserve high preparedness levels, both defensive and offensive,” he said.
At least 191 Palestinians have been killed and another 1,400 wounded in the latest Israeli-Hamas war, according to Palestinian health officials. In addition, 16,000 civilians in Gaza have been forced to flee their homes, according to the United Nations. Some 60 Israelis have been injured.
Speaking after his top security officials approved the Egyptian-sponsored cease-fire proposal, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel agreed to the plan to allow for a diplomatic solution to the problem of Palestinian rocket fire and arms-smuggling in Gaza.
If that fails, he told reporters, Israeli would be entitled to broaden its military operation in the territory to “achieve the required quiet.”
Under the Egyptian plan, Israeli and Hamas representatives are supposed to hold indirect talks in Cairo in coming days to discuss the details of the agreement.
The U.S., which pushed Egypt and other regional allies with ties to Hamas to bring an end to the fighting, welcomed Egypt’s role in pressing for a cease-fire.
“We are encouraged that Egypt has made a proposal to accomplish this goal, which we hope can restore the calm that we’ve been seeking,” said President Barack Obama late Monday at a White House dinner celebrating the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
See also Elder of Ziyon: The “moderates” of Fatah don’t accept a ceasefire either: The Abu Nidal Brigades of Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement are taking credit for shooting two rockets at Kerem Shalom – the crossing where Gazans get their food and fuel – as well as rockets towards Ashdod.
All of these occurred well after Israel accepted a ceasefire…