IDF Chief of Staff Lieut. Gen. Benny Gantz said on Wednesday that "we must stick to the targets for which we entered (Gaza) and continue our maneuvers as long as it takes." Visiting soldiers on the front lines, Gantz told them, "I am very proud of you, continue with the mission."
The IDF chief met with Colonel Tomer Yifrach, the 188th Armored Corps commander who was injured in his back. When asked about his health by Gantz, Yifrach answered: "I have amazing men who watch my back."
Gantz being briefed by IDF commanders (Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
Gantz also met Golani Brigade commander, Colonel Ghassan Alian, who returned to his men after being injured and evacuated to the hospital over the weekend.
The IDF chief of staff's remarks from the front lines came at the same time as reports of Hamas considering the mediated bid for a ceasefire. A Palestinian source, who did not detail what conditions would precipitate an end to the fighting, noted that the factions in Gaza and Israel would sign an agreement Wednesday night.
IDF Chief of Staff Lieut. Gen. Gantz and Col. Ghassan Alian (Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
A Jerusalem source said "our interest is to finish with the matter of the tunnels; the question is what will happen with Abu Mazen, Egypt, and Hamas."
"We reject the cycle of ceasefire and negotiations," said Hamas' political chief Khaled Mashal on Wednesday night at a press conference in Qatar later on Wednesday. "We rejected it today and we will reject it in the future."
Mashal said the Gaza-based group "would not accept an initiative that does not include lifting the blockade. Today Israel is worried about what happened at Ben Gurion Airport. Do you want a blockade in return for the blockade? Today the resistance in Gaza can blockade you, in the future it will from the West Bank."
"You blockade our air space, we will blockade your air space," threatened Mashal.
Mashal stressed that Hamas will never agree to demilitarization as part of negotiations. "No one will break the resistance with Allah's help. Under the table they talk about disarming the resistance of its weapons. No one can disarm the resistance with Allah's help."
He said there were only two conditions for demilitarizing "the resistance – the first is the end of the occupation and the second is the disarming of Israel from its weapons."
Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report.