Smoke rises following Israeli airstrikes on a building in Gaza City, Thursday, May 13, 2021. AP
A meeting of the Ministerial Cabinet for Political and Security Affairs, which was held late Wednesday, decided unanimously to reject all ceasefire efforts that Israel received, Israeli Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen said on Thursday.
The members of the cabinet, instead, approved a plan to increase attacks on the Gaza Strip, where Hamas forces have been raining rockets on Israeli cities.
This comes as an Egyptian delegation arrives in Tel Aviv for talks with Israeli officials as part of efforts to negotiate a cease-fire in the escalating conflict with Gaza. The same delegation met with Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip first then crossed into Israel by land, according to Reuters.
On Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informed the members of the high-level security cabinet that Israel has rejected a Hamas offer for a ceasefire that was made earlier on Wednesday through the Russian foreign ministry.
Meanwhile, Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz ordered a “massive reinforcement” of security forces to help amid Israel’s crackdown on the West Bank and Jerusalem and aerial operations on the Gaza Strip.
“We are in an emergency situation due to the national violence, and it is now necessary to have a massive reinforcement of forces on the ground, and they are to be sent immediately to enforce law and order,” he said.
He specified the forces would be reservists from Israel’s border police, a force that largely operates in the occupied West Bank.
IDF Spokesperson Hudai Zilberman said on Thursday morning that plans for a possible ground incursion of the Gaza Strip will be presented to IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi for approval later in the day and then submitted to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior government officials.
Hamas on Thursday said it fired a large rocket at Israel’s Ramon airport near Eilat, where incoming passenger flights were diverted after waves of rockets were launched towards the main airport near Tel Aviv.
A spokesman for Hamas’ armed wing demanded that “all international airlines immediately halt their flights to any airports” in Israel.
The death toll from more than two days of Israeli strikes on Gaza has risen to 83, the health ministry controlled by Hamas said on Thursday.
The dead include 17 children, while 487 people have been wounded, the ministry said.
The Israeli military said it had struck Gaza more than 600 times since Monday evening, while Hamas has fired more than 1,600 rockets towards Israel.