July 17, 2014 - 15:49 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has warned that Hamas "shut the door to a diplomatic solution" to the crisis in Gaza as his government was set to authorize the call-up of another 8,000 reserve soldiers in the escalating conflict, the Guardian reports.
Israel, however, did agree to a UN request to halt its bombardment for five hours on humanitarian grounds after its naval strikes killed four children on a beach. Hamas reportedly also agreed.
After Hamas formally rejected the ceasefire proposal tabled by Egypt, Netanyahu said the Islamic organization bore "sole responsibility for the continuation of the violence". He accused it of war crimes, in targeting Israeli citizens and using Palestinian civilians as human shields.
His comments on Wednesday, July 16, came after another day of bloodshed in Gaza, where the death toll passed 200. An Israeli civilian was also killed on Tuesday. Israel said more than 1,200 rockets had been launched from Gaza since the start of the nine-day conflict and its forces had carried out more than 1,825 air strikes.
On Wednesday, U.S. president Barack Obama backed Egypt's efforts to broker a ceasefire, offering Washington's full diplomatic support. He said that while he and the world were "heartbroken" by the deaths of civilians in the Gaza Strip, Israel had the "right to defend itself from rocket attacks that terrorize" its population.
"We're going to continue to encourage diplomatic efforts to restore the ceasefire, and we support Egypt's continued efforts to bring this about," he said.
"Over the next 24 hours, we'll continue to stay in close contact with our friends and parties in the region, and w e will use all of our diplomatic resources and relationships to support efforts of closing a deal on a ceasefire."
Avigdor Lieberman, Israel's Foreign Minister, criticized the government for accepting the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire and called for an IDF ground assault and occupation of the Gaza Strip, arguing that a ceasefire would allow Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups to replenish their stock of weapons.
"All this hesitation works against us. We must go all the way, there is no alternative. We have to end this conflict with the IDF in control of all of Gaza … There is no other way to tackle the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror that rules Gaza," Lieberman said at a press conference on Tuesday night.