Following a week in which hundreds of rockets were fired from Gaza and just hours after a terror attack on a Tel Aviv bus left nearly 30 people injured, Israel is expected to hold its fire later on Wednesday in hopes that Hamas will do the same shortly thereafter, thus bringing an end to the IDF's Operation Pillar of Defense, which began with targeted the killing of top Hamas commander Ahmed Jabari.
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According to a senior Israeli official, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is in Cairo, will ask both sides to hold their fire. Israel is expected to accept Clinton's request and is aware that the terror groups in Gaza will continue firing for a while before holding their fire as well.
The ceasefire agreement is thought to be almost identical to that which ended Operation Cast Lead some fours years ago: Israel will apparently unilaterally declare an end to the fighting, after which Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine will hold their fire as well.
Bombed Gaza building (Photo: Reuters)
Officials estimated that if the IDF holds its fire, Hamas and other Palestinian groups in Gaza will face heavy pressure to do so as well.
Israel believes Hamas and Islamic Jihad are interested in ending the fighting in light of the IDF's ongoing aerial assault on Gaza and fears of an Israeli ground offensive.
More than 180 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense. Most of those who were killed were Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists. The rising death toll has prompted Hamas and Islamic Jihad to step up their efforts to end the hostilities but under conditions that will preserve their 'dignity.'