U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called on Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups on Tuesday to accept the Egypt-proposed cease-fire plan that Israel’s cabinet has agreed to in an effort to de-escalate the conflict in Gaza.
“The Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire and negotiation provides an opportunity to end the violence and restore calm,” Kerry said, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz. “We welcome the Israeli cabinet's decision to accept it. We urge all other parties to accept the proposal.”
While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would agree to the terms of the cease-fire proposal, which include a de-escalation in attacks followed by a cease-fire, opening up Gaza border crossings and two days of talks between Israeli and Palestinian officials, he cautioned that Israel would continue its airstrikes in Gaza if Hamas and other militant groups don’t accept the plan.
Rockets were fired from Gaza after Israel said it agreed to the Egypt-brokered proposal, with sirens warning of rocket fire sounding off throughout Israel on Tuesday. Most of the projectiles have targeted the southern portion of the country, according to the Jerusalem Post. Hamas accepted responsibility for the rocket fire.
Kerry criticized Hamas for “brazenly firing rockets in multiple numbers in the face of a goodwill effort to offer a cease-fire,” the Post’s Michael Wilner reported on his Twitter account.
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Although Hamas immediately rejected the cease-fire proposal when details of the plan became known Monday, one official with the militant group said Hamas was still considering it.
"We are still in consultation and there has been no official position made by the [Hamas] movement regarding the Egyptian proposal," said Moussa Abu Marzouk in a Facebook post, according to Reuters.
Political leaders with Hamas may meet with Egyptian intelligence officials in the next few hours to talk about the cease-fire proposal, according to Haaretz. Khaled Meshal, Hamas’ head political official, or his deputy, Ismail Haniyeh, is expected to release a statement on the cease-fire plan on Tuesday, according to Haaretz.
Attacks between Israel and Gaza intensified last week following the kidnapping and deaths of three Israeli boys last month in the West Bank that was followed by the kidnapping and killing of a Palestinian boy in Jerusalem.
Responding to rocket fire from Gaza, Israel last week launched Operation Protective Edge, which has killed 178 Palestinians and wounded more than 1,000 others since Tuesday. During that span, 700 rockets have been fired at Israel, a large majority of which have been intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome.