Arab media reported Tuesday that Israel and Hamas agreed to hold fire. According to a political source, Hamas requested cease-fire using four different mediators. In response Israel said it reserves its freedom to act, and that the state of affairs would be determined on the ground.
Earlier Tuesday, after a seven-hour meeting, a statement was issued saying that the Secuirty cabinet instructed the IDF to continue to operate in Gaza as necessary, although most of the ministers who attended the meeting agreed with the defense establishment that the Egyptian efforts to reach a cease-fire should be given a chance.
Cabinet officials said that at the moment, everything depends on recent developments on the ground, and whether Hamas and the Islamic Jihad will cease fire. According to a senior Israeli official, "the situation is very fluid and sensitive, the chances for a cease-fire are 50:50. One mortar shell can change the entire picture."
Senior officials in the cabinet said Hamas had suffered a severe blow and Israel had to decide whether to stop the operations now, or to continue the strikes on Gaza until the end. "If we had intensified the attacks, rockets would have been fired at Tel Aviv," senior cabinet officials said. All the ministers— including Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Minister Naftali Bennett—did not object to a cease fire.
Follwing this report, the Defense Ministry said that Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman's support of a cease-fire deal were "fake news." The statement said that the Defense Minister's position was consistent and had not changed. Ministers Naftali Bennett, Ayelet Shaked and Ze'ev Elkin also said they did not support a cease-fire deal with Hamas.
Meanwhile, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said Tuesday that "if Israel stops the aggression, it will be possible to go back to the cease-fire understandings...the resistance defended its people against Israeli aggression, and the Palestinian people, as usual, continued to the resist with patience and pride."
The military wings in Gaza have also announced that a cease-fire has been officially achieved and that they will be committed to it "as long as Israel is committed to it."
On Tuesday afternoon Arab media outlets reported that the Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip have reportedly agreed to halt rocket fire into Israel, though a senior Israeli official denied Jerusalem was involved in any ceasefire negotiations.
Hamas official Izzat al-Rishq insisted, however, that efforts are being made by various Arab states and international organization to put an end to the latest round of hostilities on the southern border, which saw more than 400 rockets fired at Israeli territory.
"Urgent talks are being held with a large number of Arab and Western countries, as well as with international organizations, to condemn the Zionist escalation and to bring an end to the continued aggression against our people in the Gaza Strip, during which innocent civilians are hurt,” al-Rishq said.
An Egyptian delegation will arrive in Israel on Wednesday to discuss efforts to achieve calm on the Gaza border, Russian Sputnik news agency reported.
Meanwhile, Norway's foreign ministry said it is cooperating with Egypt and the United Nation to achieve calm between Hamas and Israel. Oslo condemned Hamas for launching rockets at Israel, and called on both sides to show restraint.
On Tuesday morning, Israel's Security Cabinet met for nearly four hours to discuss the strategy in Gaza going forward.
At the same time, the Israel Air Force (IAF) attacked two terror cells launching rockets at Israel, resulting in a death of one Palestinian, according to Gaza’s health ministry. Since the start of the current escalation, a total of six Palestinians have been killed in IAF strikes in Gaza.
In another incident earlier, two Palestinians breached the border fence near the abandoned Karni crossing in northern Gaza. The two men tampered with the fence and fled back to the strip a short time after that.
Earlier, the IDF Spokesperson’s Office reported that several high-profile targets belonging to Hamas, including a few multi-story buildings, have been attacked by IAF fighter jets since Monday night in response to the barrage of missiles from the strip.
Although a large number of rockets had been intercepted by the Iron Dome system, several of them landed in residential areas resulting in the death of a 40-year-old Palestinian from Hebron after his apartment in Ashkelon sustained a direct hit.
In light of the events, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas cut short his visit to Kuwait and will return to Ramallah soon.
The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rokon, directly addressed the Gaza residents via a message written in Arabic on his Facebook page.
"Hamas and the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip are the ones who bring destruction upon Gazans! There are dire repercussions to the continued launching of rockets at Israel. Terror has consequences," he warned. “Israel will continue to act with force against all terror activity by Hamas and other factions in the strip, which infringes on our sovereignty and harms our citizens."
Qatar—which recently entered the picture in mediating the long-term ceasefire arrangement efforts and even financed fuel tankers entering the Gaza Strip—strongly condemned the IAF strikes in the town of Khan Yunis, which resulted in several deaths.
"This bombing constitutes a dangerous military escalation by Israel, which wants to complicate the difficult situation in Gaza, which is already under a blockade," the official statement emphasized.
Sources in Gaza, meanwhile, stressed Tuesday afternoon that "silence will be answered with silence. As long as the strikes continue, the resistance would continue protecting the Palestinian nation."