Israel Rejects U.S. Ceasefire Plan in Favor of Twelve Hour Halt to Hostilities

The first sign of a gap in the raging hostilities between Israel and Hamas appeared on Friday as The Jerusalem Post tells us that Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has informed U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, that Israel has agreed to a twelve hour ceasefire with Hamas beginning at 7AM on Saturday, Israeli time.

Aljazeera informs us that despite the continuation of diplomatic efforts to bring the hostilities to an end, the death toll continues to increase. Thus far, Israeli bombardments have killed thirty-three people and struck at least thirty homes in Gaza. The conflict-wide death toll in Gaza stands at 840 people. Fox News tells us that Israeli airstrikes in Gaza have hit more than eighty sites and militants in Gaza have fired fifty rockets at Israel. Because tensions on both sides remain high, finding agreement on ceasefire terms has proven elusive for all parties involved.

The Jerusalem Post tells us that earlier in the day on Friday, Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet unanimously rejected a longer term ceasefire plan proposed by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Fox News tells us that Kerry's ceasefire plan called for a two stage approach in defusing the conflict. The first stage of the ceasefire agreement called for a one week cease in hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians while the second stage called for negotiations to begin between the Israelis and Palestinians addressing political, economic, and security issues important to both parties involved after the one week "cool-down" period. The Jerusalem Post tells us that Israel's first impression of the Kerry proposal was not a positive one. One anonymous source inside the Israeli diplomatic security cabinet called it, "a Qatari proposal with ornaments." Qatar has been accused in the past by Israel of providing financing and political support or Hamas.

For its part, The Jerusalem Post tells us that Hamas is demanding that Israel release hundreds of prisoners it rounded up in a sweep of the West Bank last month and that Egypt open its border with Gaza. Hamas also wants Israel to ease its border restrictions on Gaza. Fox News informs us that in response to the large number of civilian deaths in the conflict, Palestinians declared Friday to be "a day of rage."

The Jerusalem Post tells us that Israeli officials were most opposed to John Kerry's ceasefire proposal because it would require IDF soldiers to stop destroying and routing out Hamas tunnels into Israel for the duration of the ceasefire agreement. In fact, Fox News informs us that eliminating the Palestinian network of tunnels and neutralizing the Hamas threat is so important to Israel that Israeli Defense Minister, Moshe Yaalon, was quoted as saying to Israeli soldiers that, "you need to be ready for the possibility that very soon we will instruct the military to significantly broaden the ground operation in Gaza," even after Kerry finished briefing reporters on the status of his ceasefire proposal.

The Inquisitr tells us that the U.N has been calling for a ceasefire to end hostilities between the Israelis and Palestinians since July 12th. With representatives from various nations including the United States gathering in Paris on Saturday to continue working on a framework for peace, perhaps a twelve hour ceasefire is better than no ceasefire and will allow for cooler heads to come to the table?