JERUSALEM (JTA) – Hamas said it will resume firing rockets on Israel at the end of a 72-hour cease-fire if its demands are not met.
Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk, in Cairo for cease-fire talks on a permanent truce with Israel, and Hamas head Ismail Haniyeh said Wednesday night that “there is no agreement on the extension of the truce.”
The cease-fire is set to end at 8 am Friday. Israel already has conditionally accepted an extension to the cease-fire, according to reports.
Israel’s 29-day operation in Gaza to curtail rocket fire and eliminate Hamas tunnels left more than 1,800 Gazans dead, many of them civilians, according to Gaza sources. Sixty-four Israeli soldiers and three civilians, including a foreign worker, were killed during the campaign.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman in a conversation with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry late Wednesday night called the Palestinian announcement of the intention to resume rocket fire “extortion” and said Israel is “prepared for any eventuality.”
Liberman thanked the United States for its “unequivocal support for Israel” Wednesday at the United Nations General Assembly, where the adoption of a binding anti-Israel resolution was halted.
Meanwhile, indirect negotiations continued on Thursday in Cairo. The main condition Israel has submitted for continuing the cease-fire is the demilitarization of Gaza and the Palestinian terror groups, according to reports – a condition that thus far has been rejected by Hamas. Israel reportedly has agreed to other conditions, including lifting the blockade on Gaza, opening its border crossings and releasing Palestinian prisoners.
Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid, head of the centrist Yesh Atid party, told reporters on Thursday that the Israeli military is “prepared and ready, and any rocket fire will be answered with heavy fire.”
“As far as I’m concerned, there’s no different between the political and military leadership of Hamas,” Lapid said. “Whoever heads a murderous terror organization is fair game and we will get to them, and they understand that we will and they understand why they’re still hiding underground and that no one is safe from us.”