An agreement to halt the worst fighting between Israel and Hamas in more than six years could come within days, The Times of Israel reported Friday, citing an unidentified diplomat.
The diplomat suggested that the heavy bombardment of the Gaza Strip by Israeli forces Thursday and Friday indicated that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government would soon be ready to call a halt, after destroying as much of the military infrastructure of Hamas and other Islamic terror groups as possible.
The timeline for when an agreement could be reached was not clear. An Egyptian intelligence official told the Associated Press that Israel had turned down a proposal by Cairo for a one-year ceasefire, which the official said Hamas had accepted.
Hamas has launched hundreds of rockets targeting southern Israel, including the cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Israel has responded by pounding the Gaza Strip with airstrikes. The Times of Israel reported that nine Israelis had been killed by rocket fire, while more than 120 Gazans had been killed.
The unrest has spread to each of Israel’s borders. In the West Bank, on the outskirts of Ramallah, Nablus and other towns and cities, hundreds of Palestinians set up burning barricades and hurled stones at Israeli soldiers. At least 10 protesters were shot and killed by soldiers, and an 11th Palestinian was killed when he attacked and tried to stab a soldier at a military position.
On Israel’s northern border, troops opened fire when a group of Lebanese and Palestinian protesters on the other side cut through the border fence and briefly crossed. One Lebanese was killed. Three rockets were fired toward Israel from neighboring Syria, but they either landed in Syrian territory or in empty areas, Israeli media said. It was not immediately known who fired them.
Against this backdrop of spiraling violence, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for Israel-Palestinian affairs, Hady Amr, arrived in Israel as part of an attempt by Washington to de-escalate the conflict.
The Biden administration has expressed support for Israel in its public statements, to the anger of some far-left House Democrats. Biden told reporters Thursday that “there has not been a significant overreaction” by the Netanyahu government, adding that he wanted to see a “significant reduction in attacks, particularly rocket attacks.”
Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council was scheduled to meet in an emergency session Sunday morning to discuss the conflict. A diplomat told the Times of Israel that Security Council representatives are likely to unanimously call for an end to the conflict, though it is unlikely they will agree on who is to blame for the violence.
“The ongoing military escalation has caused great suffering and destruction. It has claimed scores of civilian lives, including, tragically, many children.” United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said in a statement. “The fighting has the potential to unleash an uncontainable security and humanitarian crisis and to further foster extremism, not only in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel, but in the region as a whole.”
With Post wires