Hamas officials on Wednesday officially rejected an Egyptian proposal to bring an end to the current Gaza war, but did reportedly offer their own ceasefire agreement.
The Egyptian proposal, which Israel accepted and briefly implemented unilaterally on Tuesday, called for an immediate cessation of hostilities on both sides, followed by negotiations in Cairo to hammer out the terms of a lasting truce.
But Hamas appears to feel it’s holding better cards than that, and, according to Palestinian sources cited by local media, has presented a 10-year truce in return for far-reaching Israeli concessions.
According to the Hamas proposal, Israel must pull its forces far back from the Gaza border, it must release all terrorists recently rounded up following the abduction and execution of three Jewish boys, and both Israel and Egypt must end the blockade of Gaza and permit UN forces to take control of the coastal enclave’s borders.
Oh, and Hamas wants Israel and the international community to build it an airport and a sea port in Gaza.
Later in the day, Hamas sent a text message to many Israelis warning that their government better accept the terror group’s terms, or else:
"Your government claimed yesterday that it ceased fire, but without agreeing to carry out our conditions and it thinks that we will hasten to cease fire, but to the contrary, we hurried to strike every place in Israel, from Dimona to Haifa, and we forced you to hide in shelters like mice.
“We again caution: if your government doesn’t agree to all our conditions, all of Israel will remain a legal target for our fire.”
The Israeli government did not respond to reports of the Hamas truce proposal, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did say that in light of the failed Egyptian ceasefire effort, Israel must be prepared to expand its military campaign in Gaza.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday put increased pressure on Netanyahu to approve a ground invasion of Gaza. Lieberman and visiting Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende were forced into a bomb shelter while visiting the southern port city of Ashkelon when Hamas rockets set off local air raid sirens.
Hamas and is allies fired at least 65 missiles on Wednesday, 27 of which had by press time been intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome.
A day earlier, Israel suffered its first direct fatality as a result of the terrorist onslaught when 37-year-old Dror Hanin was killed by a mortar shell while delivering food and other encouragement to the tens of thousands of Israeli soldiers deployed to the Gaza border. Hanin leaves behind a wife and three young children.