Hamas predicts imminent Gaza ceasefire as Israel rejects calls for calm

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu rejects Washington’s call for calm as Gaza’s civilian death toll continues to soar

19 May 2021

A senior Hamas leader said on Wednesday that he expects a ceasefire between Gaza and Israel “within two days”, as the Israeli prime minister insists his campaign on the besieged enclave will continue.

Mousa Abu Marzouk, the deputy head of the political bureau of the Palestinian movement Hamas, told the Lebanon-based Al-Mayadeen TV channel that he believes “the ceasefire efforts currently underway will succeed”.

“I expect a ceasefire within a day or two,” he said, without providing further details.

“Israel cannot fight on several fronts, and it is very concerned that the gates of hell will be opened to it,” he added, referring to the ongoing confrontations between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces in the West Bank, occupied Jerusalem, and Arab and mixed towns inside Israel.

Another Hamas official on Wednesday predicted an “imminent” ceasefire thanks to mediation efforts by Egypt and Qatar currently underway.

In a statement to CNN Arabic, a Hamas leader said there is a “positive atmosphere” surrounding the talks to reach an agreement with Israel “thanks to the support of our Egyptian and Qatari brothers” who proposed various solutions.

The official added that “the general demands of the Palestinian people are still clear: an end to the Israeli aggression on al-Aqsa Mosque and the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, an end to the Israeli aggression on Gaza, and a mechanism for the reconstruction of Gaza after the Israeli destruction”.

The Wall Street Journal also said a ceasefire could come as early as Friday, citing people involved in the discussions.

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Egyptian officials had made headway in talks with Hamas’s leadership, and the Israeli military had privately conceded that it was nearing the completion of its objectives, US and foreign officials told the US newspaper.

Egypt and Qatar, along with the US and several European nations, have been working to pressure both Israel and and Hamas to end their military campaigns.

The statements come as Israeli air strikes have killed at least 227 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip during the past ten days, according to local health officials. Of those killed, at least 64 were children, 38 were women and 17 were elderly men.

At least 1,620 people have been wounded, the Gaza health ministry said.

Meanwhile, the Israeli military said Wednesday that its air strikes have killed 150 members of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements – a figure that does not seem to line up with the Gaza health ministry’s death toll report.

Rocket fire out of Gaza has killed a total of 12 people in Israel, two of whom were children, according to Israeli authorities.

Netanyahu rejects US calls for calm

Earlier on Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected a call by US President Joe Biden to de-escalate.

In a statement that followed a phone conversation with Biden, Netanyahu said that he “really appreciates” the international support Israel has received, particularly “the support given by the president of our friend, the United States, Joe Biden, for the State of Israel’s right to self-defence”.

During the call, the US President had told Netanyahu that he “expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire”, according to a White House statement.

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Netanyahu, however, said he was “determined to carry on with this operation” in the Gaza Strip until “calm and security are restored to Israeli citizens”.

In his statements to Al-Mayadeen, Abu Marzook argued that Washington had refused to discuss the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip at the UN Security Council, but “its position changed after the Palestinian resistance hit Tel Aviv”.

Regarding the reported Israeli attempts to assassinate Muhammad al-Deif, the commander of Hamas’s armed wing the Al-Qassam Brigades, several times during the current onslaught, Abu Marzook said the military leader is safe and continues to run the Gaza operations.

“He has not been wounded and is still leading the battle,” Marzook said.

On Wednesday, UN diplomatic sources revealed that the member states of the UN Security Council began discussing a draft resolution prepared by France, calling for a truce in Gaza.

Israeli media expected the agreement to be reached on Friday, despite Netanyahu’s insistence on continuing the air strikes on Gaza.

Meanwhile, the Israeli Channel 12 revealed there is an agreement between the political and military establishments in Israel, “not to reach a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip before Friday”.

Published at www.middleeasteye.net