Gaza awaits Israeli ceasefire proposals
A Hamas official said tonight that Egyptian efforts to broker a truce with Israel had been held up because the Israeli government had yet to respond to proposals, indicating there would be no ceasefire until tomorrow at the earliest.
"The Israeli side has not responded yet, so we will not hold a (news) conference this evening and must wait until tomorrow," said Ezzat al-Rishq, a senior Hamas leader. "The truce is now held up because we are waiting for the Israeli side to respond," he added in a short telephone interview.
Violence continued this evening with the Israeli military saying in posts on Twitter that it hit more than 30 targets in Gaza after about 8pm local time, including strikes targeting two militants. At least 33 Palestinians were killed today, bringing the death toll in the week-long conflict to 135.
An Egyptian official had earlier said Cairo was hopeful of an agreement today following a statement by Ayman Taha, another Hamas official that said a ceasefire had been reached and would go into effect within hours.
Osama Hamdan, another leading Hamas official, later confirmed that no agreement had been reached.
"The situation to this point is that there is no agreement Our people and our resistance are ready for all possibilities," he told Al Jazeera television, speaking from Beirut.
"The resistance is capable of continuing and we have surprises," he said. "We insist on (our) conditions for a truce."
Israel and Hamas said they were open to diplomatic mediation efforts being led by Egypt, but they remained apart in their demands. Hamas officials said agreement was close.
US secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived in Israel on an emergency visit to help end a week of fighting between Israel and Hamas militants.
Mrs Clinton touched down tonight and was headed to Jerusalem for talks with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu amid mixed signs about the prospects of a ceasefire.
Speaking earlier, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a meeting with UN chief Ban Ki-moon, in the region as part of an international diplomatic push to end nearly a week of fighting, said that “if a long-term solution can be put in place by diplomatic means, Israel will be a willing partner.”
Israel launched the offensive last week to end months of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.
Mr Ban has condemned the rocket attacks but urged Israel to show “maximum restraint.” He also has offered his services to help broker a truce.