Netanyahu: If Hamas does not hold fire, Israel will have broad legitimacy to hit back hard
By HERB KEINON
Kerry welcomes ceasefire, urges "all other parties to accept the proposal," saying that it "provides an opportunity to end the violence and restore calm."
As Hamas rockets continued to fall on Israel even after Jerusalem accepted the Egyptian ceasefire proposal at 9 A.M., Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that if Hamas does not accept the ceasefire than Israel will “have all international legitimacy to broaden the military operation to achieve the required quiet.”
Netanyahu, speaking at the beginning of a meeting in Tel Aviv with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said that Israel “agreed to the Egyptian proposal in order to give an opportunity for the demilitarization of the Strip - from missiles, from rockets and from tunnels - through diplomatic means."
The prime minister, in his first public comments since Israel accepted the ceasefire, said that the purpose of Operation Protective Edge was and remains to return quiet to Israel's citizens while delivering a severe blow to Hamas and other terrorist organizations. He said that Israel succeeded in hitting the terrorist organizations in Gaza very hard, and prevented their efforts to attack Israeli citizens.
US Secretary of State John Kerry welcomed the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire, saying from Vienna that the "Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire & negotiations provides an opportunity to end the violence and restore calm."
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"We welcome the Israeli cabinet's decision to accept it," he said, and urged "all other parties to accept the proposal."
Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said earlier on Tuesday that the Islamist group had not received an official ceasefire proposal, and he repeated its position that demands it has made must be met before it lays down its weapons.
Hamas's armed wing, the Kassam Brigades, rejected the reported text of the truce deal, saying: "Our battle with the enemy continues and will increase in ferocity and intensity."