Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Hamas each denied on Thursday an earlier report that the two sides had agreed to a “comprehensive” cease-fire proposal.
Lieberman told BBC that reports that a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas would go into effect on Friday were “as of now incorrect.” In addition, a Hamas official separately confirmed to AFP that no such deal was reached but confirmed that negotiations continued in Egypt.
“The news about a cease-fire is incorrect. There are continuing efforts but no agreement until now,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said. The denials contradicted an earlier BBC report, which cited an anonymous Israeli military official saying that Israel and Hamas had agreed to terms on a cease-fire.
Israel and Hamas observed a U.N.-brokered five-hour cease-fire on Thursday to allow residents of Gaza to gather supplies. However, the Israeli army said that three mortar shells were fired from Gaza in the midst of that cease-fire, landing in an open area of Israel. In addition, Palestinian militants reportedly fired a rocket at Israel as the five-hour truce expired, the Associated Press reports.
The Israeli military has yet to respond to the renewed attacks from Gaza. However, officials said on Wednesday that Israel would “respond firmly and decisively” if Hamas “exploited” the “humanitarian window.”
Furthermore, a senior Israeli military official said that the government is considering a ground invasion, as well as a possible occupation, of the Gaza Strip, the New York Times reported. Concerns over Hamas’ enhanced arsenal and repeated attacks necessitate a “boots on the ground” response, the official said.