JERUSALEM – The 72 hour ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is scheduled to end Friday morning at 8:00 AM, and Hamas is threatening to renew its rocket fire on Israeli civilian targets at its conclusion.
Hamas spokesman Moussa Abu Marzouk stated that “There is no agreement on the extension of the truce,” the Cairo-based Hamas member wrote on his Twitter feed. Another spokesperson for the group, Ismail Radwan, said “there is not extension to the calm. We have yet to receive a response to the demands.” He was referring to Hamas’ conditions presented at the Cairo ceasefire negotiations. However, Al-Arabiya is reporting that a deal to extend the current lull by an additional three days had been reached. Israel has reportedly agreed to extend the current ceasefire, as indirect Israel-Palestinian negotiations over extending a truce in Gaza are currently underway in Cairo. Quoting an Israeli official, Reuters reports that Israel has conditionally agreed to extend a ceasefire. The official did not specify how long the ceasefire would be extended.
Communications Minister Gilad Erdan, a member of the Security Cabinet, warned that if Hamas renews its rocket fire on Israel, the IDF will escalate its reaction. Erdan told Israel Radio that while Israel has “no objections” to the rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip, and that a truce is within reach, Hamas and Islamic Jihad cannot be permitted to rearm.
The IDF’s Home Front Command has lifted all safety restrictions placed on Israeli civilian activity since the beginning of Operation ‘Protective Edge’, and all towns in the south have complied with these new instructions, except the city of Ashkelon. Speaking on IDF Radio, Ashkelon Mayor Itamar Shimoni explained that he decided not to lift the safety restrictions because: “In contrast to the Home Front Command’s decision, I do trust the Hamas. We are already hearing threats that they might return to fire on us on Friday. We will wait another day or two and see if the operation ends well and if we have a good agreement. I hope we can celebrate,” said Shimoni.