Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi
said at a joint press conference with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
on Saturday that "there are indications of an imminent cessation of combat between Israel and the Palestinians."
Morsi said that countries such as the US, France, Russia and Italy were involved in efforts to reach a ceasefire.
US: We want same thing as Israel wants
Yachimovich: Objective isn't operation's goal
- Hamas demands: End of siege, targeted killings
A senior state official told Ynet's defense analyst Ron Ben-Yishai
that Morsi and Erdogan are indeed engaged in efforts to bring about a ceasefire and are in contact with Hamas officials in Cairo. Nevertheless he stressed that there is no outline for a ceasefire anytime soon.
Other state officials said that it will soon become evident whether a lull has been achieved or not. "The objectives have yet to be met, the IDF
has more goals," one Israeli official said.
IDF reservists await orders (Photo: IDF)
"The IDF is planning to expand its activity against terror targets in Gaza on Saturday night," he added. State officials said that the main goal was and remains the cessation of rocket fire on the south.
Earlier, the Hezbolllah-affiliated Lebanese TV channel al-Mayadeen reported that Israel is planning to send a high-ranking official to Cairo in order to sign a ceasefire agreement with Gaza's terrorist groups. Israeli state officials denied the report, which could not be confirmed by any other source.
Palestinian sources told the channel that a lull would come into effect as of midnight. According to the report, the talks are being held in the auspices of Egypt, Qatar and Turkey.
IDF pounds Gaza terror targets (Photo: AP)
It was also reported that Hamas' military wing, Izz al-Din al-Qassam, is set to issue an important statement. One of the reasons for the agreement, it was claimed, was the Palestinian groups' threats to hit sensitive sites in Israel.
Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah warned in a speech that an Israeli ground offensive in Gaza would be "foolish." He expressed his concern of the pressure that Arab states are putting on the Gaza factions to withdraw their terms for a lull. "We have not heard any threats to cut ties, cancel agreements or use the weapon of oil to pressure the United States," he said.
Since the beginning of Operation Pillar of Defense on Wednesday, the IDF struck 950 terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip, 300 of which were hit on Saturday. Palestinian terror groups fired 760 rockets at Israel, 29 of which exploded in urban areas, and 267 of which were intercepted. The Palestinians reported of 45 fatalities. In Israel, three people were killed after a rocket hit a house in Kiryat Malachi.
Meanwhile, Arab foreign ministers who convened in Cairo on Saturday condemned "Israeli aggression" and said in a joint statement they support Egypt's efforts to bring about a ceasefire.
Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Alaraby said that a delegation of Arab foreign ministers is scheduled to visit Gaza in the coming days to review the situation. During the meeting, he called to reconsider "all of the past Arab initiatives regarding the peace process."
Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani said, "Our meetings have turned into a waste of time and money. We are meeting here today and we'll issue a statement. The statement will have no significance. We need to review the whole situation over again."
Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour called on Arab nations to cut ties and cancel agreements with Israel. His Egyptian counterpart, Mohammed Kamel Amr said, "We won't allow a siege on the Palestinians that will hurt their quality of life." He added that "the handling of the peace process must be reviewed."
During the meeting, hundreds of people demonstrated outside the Arab League's headquarters and protested the "Arab disgrace in handling the Israeli aggression in Gaza." Meanwhile, they said that the best reaction to the "anarchy" created by Israel would be Palestinian unity.
Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report