Hamas sources claimed an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire between Israel and Hamas went into effect at 10:45 p.m. Thursday, but Israeli sources have yet to confirm this.
If it is indeed in place, the ceasefire would end two days of hostilities which saw almost 200 projectiles fired at Israel by Hamas and IDF retaliations which hit more than 140 Hamas military targets. The ceasefire was widely reported in the Arab media but Israeli officials denied that an agreement had been reached. A senior Israeli official told Israel Radio that quiet would be met with quiet.
A ceasefire had been announced earlier on Thursday afternoon but was broken when projectiles were fired into Israel two hours later, hitting Beersheba, 25 miles from the border with Gaza.
Leaders of Israel’s hard-hit southern cities universally rejected a cease-fire agreement with Hamas. Alon Davidi, the mayor of Sderot, called it a “mistake.”
“I understand the desire to enter negotiations, but in my opinion the ceasefire is a mistake,” Davidi said. “We need to a military operation to eradicate this terror. The intermittent war is unhealthy for us and unhealthy for the State of Israel.”
Gadi Yarkoni, the head of the Eshkol Regional Council, was also skeptical of a ceasefire.
“This drawn-out reality of four months of security tension reached its climax yesterday,” he said. “We went through a day of heavy firing on our towns, we had to stop our educational activities as well as cultural and communal events. In the past few hours there is quiet and we hope that the recent tension was ‘going up for the sake of coming down,’ and afterwards we will have an agreement which will guarantee quiet for the long term.”
Tamir Idan, head of the Sdot Negev Regional Council in southern Israel, also rejected a cease-fire agreement with Hamas.
“If we are really talking about a cease-fire, which has not yet been officially confirmed, it is in my opinion a serious mistake, creating a framework in which we have a new normality whereby Hamas controls the fire and decides when to end it,” he said, according to a Walla news report. “We expect sharp, harsh and unequivocal action against Hamas which will end the terrorism in all its forms immediately, and which will allow the residents of the Gaza periphery to return to normal like all other citizens.”
The leaders of Moshav Netiv Ha’asara said the ceasefire was “simply an embarrassment.”
“The place looks like a ghost town this morning,” the council head said. “Because of irresponsible announcements like these most of the families have fled. Only the farmers remain, who cannot leave, and they’ve been told that if they work it will be their responsibility — as if they have any choice — because from their perspective it is do or die.”