Israel has put plans for a ground assault on Gaza on hold to give peace treaty talks a chance, according to officials on Tuesday. Israel has reportedly set a deadline of Thursday for Egypt-brokered peace talks to succeed.
The latest conflict began on Wednesday when Israel killed Hamas’ top military commander and began an air assault titled Operation Pillar of Defense, reports the BBC.
Israel added that it launched the assault to deter further rocket launches from Hamas and other organizations in the Gaza Strip,which have plagued the nation’s southern region for years.
More than 110 Palestinians and three Israelis have been killed in the attacks so far, and many nations have encouraged a truce between the two in an effort to stem the violence.
There was a reduced amount of violence on Tuesday as both parties were in Cairo for negotiations on a possible peace treaty. The Israeli military has still confirmed a “direct hit” on two militants in northern Gaza, and rockets have been fired toward Israel that caused no injuries or damage.
Bloomberg BusinessWeek notes that, in saying they would postpone a ground assault, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated:
“I prefer a diplomatic solution. I hope we can get one, but if not, we have every right to defend ourselves with other means, and we shall use them.”
US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon are en route to Cairo to join attempts at brokering a peace treaty between Hamas and Israel. Officials in Israel have said that if the talks in Cairo do not go as expected, Israel is prepared to launch its ground assault into Gaza.