Hamas and Israeli officials reportedly were engaged in talks Tuesday — with Egyptian officials as intermediaries — that would put in place within hours a cease-fire in their week long conflict.
A senior Hamas official told the AP that a truce agreement was within reach, while Reuters quoted an Israeli spokesman who said that while a cease-fire wasn’t finalized, the “ball is still in play.”
Moussa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas official, said that “we haven’t struck the deal yet, but we are progressing and it will most likely be tonight.”
Efforts to end a week-old convulsion of Israeli-Palestinian violence drew in the world’s top diplomats on Tuesday, with President Obama dispatching his secretary of state to the region on an emergency mission and the U.N. chief appealing from Cairo for an immediate cease-fire.
Israel and Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers have staked tough, hard-to-bridge positions, and the gaps keep alive the threat of an Israeli ground invasion. On Tuesday, grieving Gazans were burying militants and civilians killed in ongoing Israeli airstrikes, and barrages of rockets from Gaza sent terrified Israelis scurrying to take cover.
Meanwhile, Israel reported its first military causality in the conflict after a rocket strike.
There was also reports of a body being tied to the back of a motorcycle and dragged through the streets. A number of gunmen on motorcycles rode along as the body was pulled past a house of mourning for victims of an Israeli airstrike.
There is broad consensus among Palestinians that informers for Israel deserve harsh punishment, and it is rare to hear someone speak out against killings of alleged collaborators. Such public killings been carried out in the West Bank and Gaza since the first uprising against Israeli occupation in the late 1980s.
From Egypt, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said he came to the region because of the “alarming situation.”
“This must stop, immediate steps are needed to avoid further escalation, including a ground operation,” Ban said. “Both sides must hold fire immediately … Further escalation of the situation could put the entire region at risk.”
A deputy White House na