Report: Israel, Hamas truce to be declared soon
A truce between Israel and armed gtoups in Gaza will be declared soon, according to the Saudi Al Arabiya TV channel. It will start with a ceasefire for 24 to 48 hours. After this stage, negotiations will start on the opening of the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt in order to end the siege on the Palestinian enclave.
The Israeli cabinet discussed overnight an Egyptian proposal for the truce without announcing a decision. According to Israeli television, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is inclined to approve the document and a cessation of hostilities to be announced within 24 hours.
Israeli media have further noted that the rocket attacks against Israel from the Gaza Strip had virtually ceased for about two hours prior to the meeting of the Inner Cabinet.
Israeli President Shimon Peres accused Iran of encouraging the Palestinians to continue their rocket attacks rather than negotiate a cease-fire. The Iranians "are still trying to encourage Hamas to continue shooting, bombing, they try to send them arms," Peres accused Tehran in an interview with CNN.
For her part, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, announced Monday night that the United States will not endorse in the Security Council a text which will undermine efforts to reach a cease-fire in Gaza.
On the ground, an Israeli bombardment struck Tuesday the Islamic Bank's headquarters in Gaza. This bank was set up by Hamas leaders to circumvent international sanctions. The facility was seriously damaged. The owner of the bank, Suleiman Tawil, 31 condemned the strike, saying it was "not involved in politics."
Hamas had set up the bank after foreign investors, for fear of being accused of funding international terrorism, ceased trading with Hamas.
Elsewhere, at least five rockets were launched from the Strip to the Israeli city of Beesheva. Sirens sounded also in several communities in southern Israel.