Hamas Official: Ceasefire Agreed To, Announcement Coming Soon

A Hamas official told the media that Egypt has successfully negotiated a cease fire between Hamas and Israel which will go into effect at midnight local time. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that talk of a deal was premature.

Hamas official Ayman Taha told Reuters from Cairo:

“An agreement for calm has been reached. It will be declared at 9 o’clock (1900 GMT) and go into effect at midnight (2200 GMT).”

Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev told Reuters that, even though the sides were talking, the military offensive would continue in parallel.

Regev said on CNN:

“We’re not there yet. The ball’s still in play.”

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected in the region late Tuesday evening to meet with Netanyahu.

Israel and the US have said they prefer a diplomatic solution to the conflict over a ground invasion.

Netanyahu said with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

“No country would tolerate rocket attacks against its cities and against its civilians. Israel cannot tolerate such attacks. If a long-term solution can be put in place through diplomatic means, then Israel would be a willing partner to such a solution, but if stronger military action proves necessary to stop the constant barrage of rockets, Israel will do what is necessary to defend our people.”

Hamas has said that a precondition for any truce would be a full lifting of the blockade of the Gaza Strip by Israel.

Israeli police said more than 150 rockets were fired from Gaza by late afternoon, many of them intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome system. Ten people were wounded in Israel, the military and an ambulance service said.

Tuesday evening Hamas rockets targeted the holy city of Jerusalem. There rockets overshot their mark and landed in a Palestinian village in the West Bank. There were no reports of injuries but paramedics were on the scene.

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak told troops in the south of the country:

“Hamas will not disappear but the memory of this experience will remain with it for a very long time and this is what will restore deterrence. Quiet has not yet been achieved and so we are continuing (the offensive) … there are also diplomatic contacts — ignore that, you are here so that if the order for action must be given – you will act.”