agreed on a ceasefire
but still disagree on the implementation phases, the Al-Arabiya network quoted unnamed sources as saying Sunday afternoon.
According to the report, Hamas conditioned the agreement on the immediate implementation of a ceasefire, while Israel wants to implement it in two separate phases – apparently a lull in the first stage and the lifting of the naval blockade of Gaza at a later stage.
However, both sides denied the report and accused one another of spreading disinformation. Exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal
claimed that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
has requested a truce in the Gaza conflict, but a senior Israeli official said in response that "Hamas's comments about a ceasefire, alleging that Israel is begging for one, are about as accurate as its claims to have shot down an F-15 (warplane) or attacked the Knesset."
Day 6 of Operation Pillar of Defense (Photo: AP)
Slamming Israeli "aggression" Mashaal said that "the enemy's objectives have failed and this has enhanced the Palestinian people's resolve."
He said that Gazans maintain high morale and commented on reports of a potential lull. "Netanyahu asked for a lull. via the Americans and the Europeans; not Hamas, not the resistance and not the Palestinian people. The brothers in Gaza told me they want to achieve our legitimate demands – an end to targeted killings, lifting the blockade and more."
An Israeli state official said in response "Hamas, which is taking rough blows by the IDF even at this time, is looking for a way to save face."
Gantz and Southern Command chief Tal Russo (Photo: IDF)
He noted that there is a substantial drop in the amount of rockets being fired at Israel and added that tens of thousands of soldiers are ready to launch a ground operation.
The official further added, "There are two parallel routes: Expansion of the operation and preparation for a ground offensive and an attempt by international elements to find a solution that will stop the fire."
The Al-Arabiya report coincides with Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil's claim that an agreement brokered by Cairo to stop the fighting between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza could be close.
"Negotiations are going on as we speak and I hope we will reach something soon that will stop this violence and counter violence," he said in an interview in Cairo for the Reuters Middle East Investment Summit.
Damage in South (Photo: Ido Erez)
The exiled leader of the Islamist group said on Palestinians must end their divisions and warned Israel it would find it had made a "mistake" if it launched a land invasion.
Speaking at a news conference in Cairo, Mashaal urged Palestinians to unite under a single vision, a reference to the split between Hamas in Gaza and West Bank-based Fatah of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
He called on rights groups to "expose" Israeli "crimes" against Gaza, especially those he said had been perpetrated against children and civilians. Meshaal also asked for support from Egypt, which borders both Gaza and Israel.
Running for shelter (Photo: Ido Erez)
Earlier on Monday, a senior official close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel is ready for a ground invasion in the Gaza Strip but prefers a diplomatic solution.
"Israel is prepared and has taken steps, and is ready for a ground incursion which will deal severely with the Hamas military machine," the official told Reuters.
But he added: "We would prefer to see a diplomatic solution that would guarantee the peace for Israel's population in the south. If that is possible, then a ground operation would no longer be required. If diplomacy fails, we may well have no alternative but to send in ground forces."