Israel will only agree to an unconditional ceasefire with Palestinian Islamic Jihad, diplomatic sources said as an Egyptian delegation headed to Israel to continue to push for an end to Operation Shield and Arrow.
Israel will not release the body of terrorist and hunger-striker Khader Adnan as part of an agreement, nor will it commit to stopping targeted assassinations of terrorists, a senior diplomatic source said.
Rather, Israel will continue precision strikes on Islamic Jihad targets, including senior figures in the terrorist group, working slowly to gather intelligence and try not to harm bystanders, another diplomatic source said.
While rejecting other demands, Israel remained open to a ceasefire with Palestinian Islamic Jihad on Thursday, following an aborted attempt the evening before.
However, the source said, it will not happen until the rockets totally stop, and "not even a drizzle" of rockets will be tolerated, the source added. A total ceasefire on Israel's part will come when there is a total, unconditional ceasefire on the other side.
In addition, the source said that Israel is not facing foreign pressure to end the operation.
“If they stop shooting, we have no interest in continuing, but if they continue, we will crush them and strike them,” Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich told ynet on Thursday morning.
Israel was ready for a ceasefire on Wednesday night already, with a senior diplomatic source saying at the time “we did what we needed to do.”
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said his country's "efforts in relation to the escalation in the Gaza Strip have not yet yielded the desired fruits and results.
"The military operations in the Gaza Strip lead to cycles of violence," Shoukri said in a press conference in Berlin on Thursday. "We condemn the last operation that led to the death of women and children. Israel's aggressive behavior endangers regional security."
“I call on peace-loving countries to interfere and end the injustice the Palestinian people are enduring,” Shoukry said.
US calls for desescalation
The US emphasized calls to deescalate the tensions between Israel and Gaza.
National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi and his American counterpart Jake Sullivan spoke on the phone Wednesday night, and the White House readout said Sullivan “reaffirmed the Administration’s ironclad support for Israel’s security, as well as its right to defend its people from indiscriminate rocket attacks.”
At the same time, Sullivan “emphasized the need to deescalate tensions and prevent further loss of life” and noted ceasefire talks.”
Similarly, US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides tweeted the next morning that he is “concerned about the continuing rocket launches today. We stand by Israel’s right to defend itself. Working towards a quick deescalation.”
Cyprus President Nikos Christodulides visited Israel on Thursday and met with President Isaac Herzog as planned, despite the ongoing fighting.
Christodoulides said in a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he is "here despite the terrorist attacks, which I totally condemn."
Hungary released a rare statement that did not also call to deescalate or express concern about Palestinians.
“Hungary [is] deeply shocked by hundreds of rockets again fired by terrorists from Gaza Strip, deliberately targeting civilians,” Ambassador Levente Benkő tweeted in the name of the Foreign Ministry in Budapest. “We condemn all forms of terrorism, recognize Israel’s right to self-defense. [Our] full sympathies [are with] the government and people of Israel in the face of this threat.”
Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra said that "the current escalation in Israel and Gaza is deeply worrying. The Netherlands condemns all indiscriminate attacks. All sides must exercise restraint and prevent further violence and loss of civilian lives."
Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong condemned "the indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza and respect's Israel's right to defend itself," while urging "all parties to exercise restraint and protect civilian lives."
The statement came a day after Wong expressed concern about the "tragic loss of civilian life, including children, from Israeli airstrikes...in Gaza."
Republican presidential primary candidate and former US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley tweeted that "Israel is defending itself the same way America would defend ourselves if someone was shooting missiles at us. We will always have the backs of our friends."