An Israeli envoy has arrived in Egypt for talks with officials Sunday regarding a possible ceasefire in the nation’s offensive against Gaza.
The meeting came as Israel is widening the range of its targets, taking out more than a dozen homes of Hamas militants and two media officials, reports Yahoo! News.
Seven civilians were killed in the attack, including five children — the largest civilian toll yet, according to witnesses and security officials.
The Israeli official arrived in Cario, Egypt, on Sunday and as immediately taken from the tarmac to talks with Egyptian authorities, according to unidentified Egyptian security officials.
Cairo has been leading international efforts to broker a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas since Israel launched its “Pillar of Defense” attack against the region on Wednesday. The offensive is aimed at halting Gaza’s constant rocket attacks on the country’s southern region.
Hamas is looking for a truce deal that includes a complete lifting of the border blockade on Gaza, which was imposed when Islamists seized the territory by force. Hamas is also asking that Israel guarantees to stop killing its leaders and military commanders.
Israeli officials are rejecting these terms, saying they do not wan a “timeout,” and they want firm guarantees that the rocket fire from Gaza will finally come to an end. International Business Times notes that, despite the ceasefire talks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continued to threaten a possible ground invasion to escalate the attack.
Speaking at a weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday, Netanyahu stated, “We have extracted a heavy price from Hamas and other terrorist organizations, and the army is prepared to significantly widen the operation.” He added that he has spoken with US President Barack Obama over the weekend and will continue to talk with international leaders in the coming days.
More than 500 rockets have been fired from Gaza since the assault began on Wednesday. Israeli officials have reported three casualties, while 48 Palestinians — half of them civilians, including 13 children — have been reported killed.