An Israeli tank drives next to the border between Israel and the southern Gaza Strip, Friday 8 April 2011. (AP)
A preliminary agreement on ceasefire is being concluded between Palestinian factions and Israel under the auspices of Egypt and United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Robert Serry, according to Palestinian sources.
“According to the initial agreement, Israel will stop its airstrikes on highly populated Palestinian areas and in return Hamas will stop launching rockets on Israeli settlements,” the sources said.
However, Israel's insistence on maintaining its right to assassinate Hamas figures whom they believe a threat to their national security remained an obstacle to the deal's successful completion. The notion was rejected out of hand by the Hamas movement.
It was added that while the Israeli defense minister agreed on a complete ceasefire, the prime minister office, which takes the decision, wants the agreement to mention Israel's right to target Gaza militants.
Should the two parties reach an agreement, the ceasefire will come into effect within 36 hours of being signed, during which Hamas is expected to inform all Palestinian factions of the agreement against possible continued Israeli offensives, which might drive the factions to respond.