Hamas member claims offer was not discussed with any of the Gaza factions; armed wing promises to intensify fight.
While Israel’s security cabinet decided to accept the Egyptian ceasefire initiative on Tuesday morning, Hamas’ armed wing rejected the offer completely, saying it was “a surrender” to Israel.
Yisrael Beiteinu chairman, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, voted against accepting the ceasefire proposal, as did Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett. Voting in favor of the offer were Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Finance Minister Yair Lapid, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and ministers Gilad Erdan and Yitzhak Aharonovich.
The ceasefire started at 9am Israel local time, in effect bringing Operation Protective Edge to an end after 8 days. However, Hamas has yet to agree to the truce.
Egyptian paper Al-Youm Al-Sabee purported to publish the details of the deal on Monday night. According to the report in Arabic, Israel will stop its aerial and naval attacks on Gaza, specifically refraining from any ground incursion into the Strip.
Hamas for their part will rein in the Palestinian factions, and work to put an end to all types of attacks on Israel, including by rockets, sea or even underground tunnels; specifically attacks on civilians and the border region between Gaza and Israel.
According to the report, the two sides also agreed to increase the flow of goods into Gaza, as well as the gradual opening of the crossings into Gaza, in return for calm. However, further details regarding security arrangements are still supposed to be discussed.
“If the offer is what was reported, then this is surrender. We’ll intensity our fight against the enemy,” the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades said in a statement.
Hamas spokesman Fauzi Barhum said that the Egyptian ceasefire offer was unacceptable.
“A ceasefire without an agreement is out of the question. During a war, you don’t hold your fire and only then start negotiating,” he said.
Hamas political bureau member Ezzat Rishq claimed that the Egyptian initiative was not discussed with Hamas, Islamic Jihad or one of the other factions in the Strip.
Hamas official Osama Hamdan added the Egyptian initiative was a “joke.”
“We did not receive this declared paper from the Egyptians … which means it’s an initiative for the media. It’s not a political initiative,” he told CNN.
The initiative was meant to “push the Palestinians into a corner and aid the Israelis.”
Members of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s own coalition, including some from his own Likud party, slammed the ceasefire offer as “capitulation” on Monday night.
Deputy Security Minister Danny Danon (Likud) voiced disapproval of the Egyptian brokered ceasefire proposal saying, “A ceasefire is a slap in the face for the Israeli people.”
Likud MK Miri Regev also responded to the reports on the deal, saying, “I call on the prime minister not to agree to a ceasefire and to make a military decision that will weaken Hamas through action in the air, land and sea.”
According to her, “This window of opportunity won’t return and any ceasefire with Hamas will allow the organization to return to power.”
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett called the proposal “good for Hamas and bad for Israel… A cease-fire at the present time shows the government’s weakness.”
“A cease-fire now will create a bigger campaign against the south of the country and more rocket attacks in another year.”
MK Ayelet Shaked, from the Bayit Yehudi, also responded to reports of the pending deal and said, “A ceasefire that does not harm tunnels and rockets is capitulation.”
World leaders and the Israeli left spoke in support of the ceasefire.
US President Barack Obama praised the proposal, telling Muslim-Americans that he’s hopeful that the plan can restore calm in the wake of a deadly wave of violence.
“We’re going to continue to do everything we can to facilitate a return to the 2012 cease-fire,” Obama said at a White House dinner celebrating the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
At the same time, Obama said the US has been “very clear that Israel has the right to defend itself” against an onslaught of rockets being launched indiscriminately by militants from Gaza into Israel. He also lamented the death and injury of Palestinian civilians in Gaza during Israel’s military response to quell the rockets, urging that civilians be protected and warning against further escalation by either side.
“More broadly, the situation in Gaza reminds us, again, that the status quo is unsustainable,” Obama said. “The only path to true security is a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”
Quartet Representative Tony Blair said Monday that he welcomed “the statement from Egypt calling on the parties to implement a ceasefire to give a chance for a proper, full and long-term solution to Gaza to be put in place.
“Such a ceasefire can halt the tragic loss of life, stop the rockets on Israel – and open up the possibility of a genuine change in Gaza.
“But as I have said throughout this latest crisis, the only long-term solution that makes sense is one that gives hope to the people of Gaza; and one which gives Israel real and permanent security from rocket attacks, tunnels and terrorism,” he said.
Meretz Chairwoman MK Zahava Gal-On voiced support for the ceasefire proposal in comments made on Channel 2 News in which she encouraged Netanyahu to make “the right choice”.
MK Ilan Gilon, also from Meretz, stated that, “The ceasefire is a tactical achievement and at the moment we must build a permanent solution.” According to him, “The solution in Gaza must go through Ramallah. It’s up to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to call on Palestinian President Abu Mazen to return to peace talks.”
Gilon praised residents of southern Israel saying, “Hugs to my sisters and brothers in the south for the responsibility, restraint and solidarity.”
Roi Kais, Attila Somfalvi, Yitzhak Benhorin, Meir Ohayon, Eli Senyor and the Associated Press contributed to this report.