Waiting for Hamas: Brigadier-General (Ret.) Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry's Security-Diplomatic Bureau returned from Egypt Thursday night, where he and Egyptian Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman, held another round of talks regarding concerning a possible ceasefire between Israel and the militant groups in Gaza.
Israeli defense establishment believes Hamas response to the Israeli offer will be relayed next week.
Gilad reiterated Israel's demands regarding the tahadiya – the temporary truce: Israel requires any truce in the Gaza Strip to include a total halt in terrorist and smuggling activity and the return of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. The cabinet has authorized Gilad to relay the Israeli offer, prior to making a final decision on a possible wide-scale military operation in the Strip.
Gilad and Suleiman's meeting was clouded by reports of heavy rocket fire emanating from Gaza: some 40 mortar shells and 25 Qassam rockets, as well as several Grad rockets, were fired from northern Gaza at the Negev area on Thursday, some reportedly as an attempts to mask an attempted terror attack on Netiv Ha'asara.
The Israeli stance is that should the militant groups in Gaza adhere to the guidelines set, Israel would be able to guarantee it would cease its actions against the militias and their operatives in the Strip. Israel has also pledged to reopen all the crossings with Gaza, in order to allow the free flow passage of goods into the Strip.
Should the ceasefire prove successful, Israel has also pledged to reopen the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt, in order to speed track Gilad Shalit's release.
Israel has stipulated that any agreement reached would not include the West Bank territories.
Upon his return, Gilad briefed Defense Minister Ehud Barak on the progress made in the talks. Suleiman is expected to discuss the Israeli demands with the representatives of the Gaza militias within the next few days.
According to security assessments, while discussing the ceasefire terms Egypt will operate under the assumption that should the militants groups in Gaza reject the agreement, Israel will go ahead and prepare for a military operation in Gaza.