Hamas official predicts ceasefire soon

A senior Hamas official predicted a ceasefire within days after U.S. President Joe Biden urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to seek a “de-escalation” in the fighting.

Biden talked on the telephone May 19 with Netanyahu and conveyed his expectation that tensions would be drastically reduced during the day on the road to a cease-fire.

But Netanyahu replied to Biden: “I am determined to continue this operation until its goal is achieved.”

An Egyptian security source said the sides had agreed in principle to a ceasefire after help from mediators but details were still being negotiated in secret.

“I think that the ongoing efforts regarding the ceasefire will succeed,” the Hamas political official, Moussa Abu Marzouk, told Lebanon’s al-Mayadeen TV.

“I expect a ceasefire to be reached within a day or two, and the ceasefire will be on the basis of mutual agreement.”

Marzouk, who is a member of Hamas’ Political Bureau, also said Israel is worried that it cannot fight on several fronts in the occupied West Bank, Jerusalem, Gaza and Arab towns in Israel.

Israeli security officials do not expect a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip before May 21, an Israeli Channel 12 TV.

At least 227 Palestinians have been killed, including 64 children and 38 women, in Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip since May 10, the Gaza-based Health Ministry said on May 19.

A ministry statement said 1,620 people have also been injured by the onslaught.

The updated death toll comes after four Palestinian civilians, including a 2-year-old child, were killed when Israeli fighter jets bombed a house in the central Gaza Strip.

Earlier Wednesday, three Palestinians, including a journalist, were killed in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City.

Twelve people have also been killed in Palestinian rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.

Recent tensions that started in East Jerusalem during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan spread to Gaza as a result of Israeli assaults on worshippers at the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. In 1980 it annexed the entire city, a move never recognized by the international community.


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