Iron Dome anti-missile system fires interceptor missile as rockets launched from Gaza near Sderot, 2018..
(photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
Three days after the largest flareup in violence between Israel and Hamas in years, despite the relative quiet in the south, Likud ministers told a different tale Sunday morning as to whether a ceasefire was reached.
Israel agreed to a ceasefire during a four-hour security cabinet meeting Thursday night but neglected to publicize it to make it appear as though Hamas requested the cessation of violence, Army Radio reported on Sunday morning. However, multiple members from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party said otherwise.
Nearly 200 projectiles fired into Israel between Wednesday evening and Thursday afternoon, including a Grad rocket fired at the southern city of Beersheba
, nearly 25 miles from the Gaza Strip border. In response, Israeli jets struck at least 150 Hamas posts in the Strip, including a five-story security headquarters.
While Hamas maintains a "calm for calm" treaty has gone into effect while reserving action if Israel attacks and no rockets were fired over the weekend, Likud ministers said on Sunday no truce has been struck.
The Army Radio report cited an unnamed security cabinet official, who said Israel agreed to a ceasefire, as UN officials visited the coastal enclave over the weekend
in the hopes of brokering a long-term truce.
Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz, a member of the security cabinet, denied the reports of a ceasefire, telling Kan radio as much.
"In the last round [of violence] we hit the [Hamas] missile production badly. We as a cabinet need to see the general picture - we have not signed a ceasefire agreement and we are keeping our cards close to our chests," he said. "Ousting Hamas is an option we are closer to now than any time in the past... Not every time we are hit, we go to all-out war. Sometimes we go into smaller campaigns with acute reactions."
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It doesn't matter who requested from whom, because there is no ceasefire," Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze'ev Elkin told Army Radio. "There's no ceasefire as of now."
Elkin, a Jerusalem mayoral candidate, surmised Hamas chose to not continue attacks because of the Israeli response. "They just made a decision not to fire in the wake of the IDF attack," he said.
Avi Dichter, Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and former head of the Shin Bet, warned in an interview with Kan radio only Israel will dictate military options.
"Gaza will be dismantled by political arrangement or military action. No one will determine the timing of the military campaign except for the State of Israel," he said.
Their words were echoed later in the day by the premier, who called for a total ceasefire, speaking before a cabinet meeting.
"We are in the midst of a campaign against the terror [Hamas] in Gaza. There has been an exchange of blows and this will not end in one blow,” Netanyahu said.
“Our demand is clear - a total cease-fire,” Netanyahu added.
“So far, we have destroyed hundreds of Hamas military targets. With every round of attacks, the IDF exacts a heavy price from Hamas. I will not reveal our operational plans, but they are ready.
Our goal is to restore peace to the residents of the south and the surrounding areas. This goal will be achieved in full,” Netanyahu continued.
Despite the lack of rocket fire, Gazans continued to send incendiary devices across the border that torched Israeli land over the weekend and Israel responded with aircraft strikes on Hamas positions.
Anna Ahronheim, Tovah Lazaroff and Khaled Abu Tomeh contributed to this report.
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