Israel, after eight days of cross-border attacks with Gaza, on Tuesday unilaterally accepted an Egyptian-proposed truce, despite earlier rejections by Palestinian armed groups.
“The (security) Cabinet has decided to answer positively to the Egyptian initiative for a ceasefire starting today at 9 am (0600 GMT),” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.
The forum of seven senior Ministers warned that Israel would respond forcefully to any ongoing rocket attacks.
Commentators said the positive — and for the moment unilateral — Israeli answer was partially a bid to recruit international support, in case the rocket fire did not stop and Israel would have to expand the offensive and send in ground troops.
While Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed the initiative, the political wing of the Hamas movement rejected it.
“A ceasefire before reaching an agreement is rejected. “Hamas position has not changed since before or after the Israeli occupation accepted the ceasefire initiative. “Hamas has not officially received any initiative from anyone,” spokesman Sami Abu Zuchri said in a statement.
Hamas’ armed wing, the Qassam Brigades, earlier rejected the truce.