Top Israeli Official: Barring Surprise Turn of Events, Gaza Cease-fire Expected on Thursday

Political officials clarify that despite the international community's attempts to calm tensions, Israeli officials have denied that it held cease-fire talks with Hamas

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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A Palestinian man on Tuesday at a building destroyed by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City.
A Palestinian man on Tuesday at a building destroyed by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City.Credit: Khalil Hamra / AP
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

A senior Israeli political official said Tuesday night that "if there is no surprising turn of events," a cease-fire with Gaza is expected on Thursday.

In Jerusalem, it is estimated that the military operation in Gaza will end within a few days, because the IDF and Hamas have reached their respective goals.

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Despite this evaluation, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made it clear on Tuesday that he currently has no intention of halting Israel's current operation in Gaza.

"We will continue for as long as necessary in order to restore quiet to all citizens of Israel," Netanyahu said during a tour of the Hatzerim Israeli Air Force Base, hinting that the operation in Gaza was also intended to intimidate Hezbollah with the threat of an Israeli attack: "I am certain that all of our enemies all around us see the price for aggression against us and that they too will learn the lesson."

Political officials made it clear Tuesday night that despite attempts by the international community to calm tensions, Israel has not yet held cease-fire talks with Hamas.

The defense establishment and political officials identified three possible routes to achieve a ceasefire: Egyptian mediation, UN mediation or a unilateral cease-fire by Israel, a move that would likely be reciprocated by Hamas.

Israeli sources believe that Hamas has already fulfilled many of its main goals in the current round of clashes: positioning itself as the defender of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, strengthening its foothold in the West Bank, and aiding Yahya Sinwar in his personal aspiration to succeed President Mahmoud Abbas, against the backdrop of the recent cancellation of the Palestinian Authority elections.

U.S. President Joe Biden, one of the key players in calming the region, on Tuesday urged Netanyahu to pursue an end to the operation.

Biden, whose management of the crisis has been criticized by the Democratic Party, has repeatedly supported Israel's right to defend itself against rocket attacks. However, in his telephone conversation Monday night with Netanyahu – their third conversation since the operation began last week – Biden called on the parties to strive for a ceasefire.

At the request of the United States, Israel provided intelligence to the U.S. Department of Defense on Tuesday showing that Hamas conducted military operations from the high-rise building in Gaza City demolished by an Israeli airstrike on Saturday. The airstrike was met with harsh criticism in the United States and abroad, due to the damage sustained by the AP and Al Jazeera media agencies that the building housed.

Meanwhile, Israel marked another political achievement on Tuesday night, when European Union foreign ministers failed to reach a unanimous agreement on the wording of a declaration calling for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas due to opposition from Hungary.

EU Foreign Minister Josep Burrell said after the conference that there was widespread agreement that "the top priority is an immediate cessation of all violence and the implementation of a cease-fire." The Foreign Ministry is continuing its work to preserve the legitimacy of continued military operations.

Israel has also undertaken diplomatic action to obtain support to enable the operation to continue. Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi has spoken in recent days with more than 40 foreign ministers, and Israeli ambassadors have been deployed for interviews with hundreds of media outlets around the world.

However, despite political support, mass demonstrations in Europe and North America are mounting against Israel's conduct and the continuation of the operation.

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