Israel gives Egypt 24 hours to negotiate Gaza ceasefire

Israel has delayed an offensive into Gaza aimed at stemming Palestinian rocket fire following Cairo’s request for a further 24hours to broker a ceasefire. Egypt says it has prevented a ‘large-scale’ operation by Israel in the coastal strip.

­"The efforts made by Egypt in the past few days have culminated in the successful prevention of a large-scale Israeli military operation against Gaza," said Egypt's ambassador to the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Othman, as cited by Agence France Presse.

The ambassador added that efforts at restoring the truce are continuing. However, the Israelis seem to have plans for a much wider operation if these efforts fail.

During the previous week dozens of rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel, resulting in a series of deadly retaliatory air strikes by Israel. The violence killed 12 Palestinians and one Israeli raising fears of a major conflict.

On Monday, at least six more rockets were fired into southern Israel undermining fresh reports that Gaza militants were committed to the Egypt-brokered truce. No injuries or damages in Israel were reported.

Despite small Gaza factions as Islamic Jihad or the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine being involved into the recent military conflict, Israel holds Hamas accountable for all rockets fired from the strip.

Political blogger Larry Derfner from Tel Aviv does not think that an Israeli ground operation in Gaza is imminent.

Not that many missiles or rockets are falling in Israel. Relatively speaking there is not much happening in Gaza. But the main thing is that people who are firing these missiles from Gaza are not Hamas, which by default controls the strip. It is a martial group which cannot fight Israel,” Derfner told RT.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for the construction of some 2,000 housing units in the West Bank and east Jerusalem to be accelerated. Netanyahu said on Tuesday that the new settlements are in "areas that in any future arrangement will remain in Israel's hands."

But Palestinian officials slammed the decision saying it would only "speed up the destruction of the peace process." Mahmoud Abbas’ office also declared new Israeli settlements were projected in areas Palestine considers to be part of its future state.

Netanyahu’s decision is provocative,” remarked Derfner. “But it is the way this government operates, as it is totally pro-settlement. It is not really interested in negotiating with Palestinians or ready to discuss concessions for a two-state solution.”