Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said late Sunday that a long-term cease-fire agreement with Hamas will not be possible unless “quiet and security” are returned to Israeli citizens, according to media reports published Sunday.
"The Israeli delegation in Cairo is acting with a very clear mandate to stand firmly on Israel's security needs," Netanyahu reportedly told ministers at the start of a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, one day before a five-day truce in the Gaza Strip is set to expire at midnight on Monday.
"Only if there is a clear answer to Israel's security needs, only then will we agree to reach an understanding," Netanyahu said, adding that Hamas will “continue to take very hard blows,” if it renews firing from the Gaza Strip.
“If Hamas thinks that by a continuation of a drizzle of rocket fire we will make concessions, it is mistaken,” Netanyahu reportedly said, in an apparent response to Hamas’ threat earlier on Sunday to engage Israel in “a long war” if the demands of the Palestinian people are not met.
“We are committed to achieving the Palestinian demands and there is no way back from this. All these demands are basic human rights that do not need this battle or these negotiations,” Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri told Agence France-Presse on Sunday.
However, Netanyahu reportedly accused Hamas of attempting to cover its military defeat and the killing of “hundreds of terrorists” in Gaza with a diplomatic achievement in Cairo. Nearly 2,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since fighting began on July 8, along with 64 soldiers and three civilians on the Israeli side.
Egypt-mediated talks between the Palestinian and Israeli delegations in Cairo have so far failed to produce a lasting peace agreement.
Meanwhile, houses of three Palestinians in Hebron in the occupied West Bank were raided by Israeli troops late on Sunday. The houses of at least two of the three suspects, who are believed to have been involved in the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in June, were demolished during the raid, Al Jazeera reported Monday.