Israel is assessing the conditions for a cease-fire, a senior Israeli military official said Wednesday, after an intense 10-day air and artillery campaign against Hamas in Gaza met a growing chorus of calls for a halt to the deadly conflict.
“We are now assessing whether the achievements are enough to bring the message to Hamas,” the official said. “We can go more days, more weeks…we have a very good bank of targets.”
The official said Israel wants to see an agreement to end fighting which includes international pressure on Hamas to address its ability to build up its forces and the return of the bodies of two soldiers who went missing in the 2014 war.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and military chief of staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi are holding ongoing discussions on whether Hamas has been sufficiently deterred by the operation, the official said.
The Israeli military has launched hundreds of airstrikes in Gaza, aimed at what it says are Hamas’s military infrastructure and personnel. Israel’s military says it has killed 130 Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad militants so far, and destroyed all of their rocket manufacturing sites and 100 kilometers of an underground tunnel system that Israel says the militant group uses to maneuver and launch attacks.
Hamas, which Israel says started the current conflict by launching rockets at Jerusalem on May 10, has since fired more than 3,700 rockets into Israel.
At least 219 people, including 63 children, have been killed in Gaza, according to the territory’s health ministry. More than 1,500 Palestinians have been injured and tens of thousands have been displaced from their homes, according to the ministry and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.
In Israel, 12 people, including one child, have been killed since Hamas began launching rockets and antitank missiles, according to emergency services and the Israeli military.
As the death toll rose, the U.S. and regional powers have intensified efforts to stop the fighting.
The U.S. has communicated a demand via intermediaries to Hamas—which it considers a terror group—to stop launching rockets immediately. U.S. officials regard Egypt as the more important of at least two indirect channels to Hamas. Washington is also working with Qatar, where some senior Hamas leaders are based, but Doha is seen as having less influence over Hamas than Cairo, according to a Western official familiar with the talks.
The U.S. has called on Israel to end the violence, but officials haven’t said whether they have pressed Israel for an immediate cease-fire. Diplomats have said they don’t believe Israel will agree to a cease-fire until Hamas stops firing rockets.
One Western diplomat said Washington is focused on what the U.S. can do after the fighting is over to rebuild Gaza, and U.S. envoy Hady Amr has explored these questions in meetings in Israel and the West Bank.
Cease-fires during the previous wars in Gaza have proved fragile. Truces lasting multiple days were broken in the last round of significant fighting in 2014, as each side blamed the other for the renewed rocket attacks and airstrikes. In one instance, following the collapse of a week-long cease-fire, Israel launched an airstrike on the head of Hamas’s military wing, Mohammed Deif, killing his wife and children. That conflict then lasted another week.
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.
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