Yediot Aharonot reported on Monday that Jerusalem was open to what the Israeli outlet - conveying remarks from government sources - described as intense "international efforts underway to reach a ceasefire agreement." The Jerusalem Post conveyed comments from U.S. and United Nations officials calling on all parties to immediately accept a ceasefire, and quoting President Barack Obama demanding efforts that would bring about "a cease-fire that ends the fighting based on the 2012 cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas in Gaza." United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is due in Israel on Tuesday and is scheduled to speak with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon. Netanyahu remarked on the efforts in an interview by emphasizing that "if Hamas really wants a cease-fire, I am sure that we can get to that... [b]ut they don’t want one." The reference and evaluation are to an Egyptian ceasefire that Hamas had last week dismissed out of hand, but which remains on the table as the main option being explored by diplomats. The Arab League issued a statement Monday straightforwardly demanding that Hamas now accept the Egyptian terms. Palestinian media reported that a 5-hour humanitarian ceasefire has already been locked in for Tuesday morning, with the start time set for 10:00 a.m.
An American delegation of 13 senior firefighters and officers are in Israel as part of the Emergency Volunteer Project assisting their Israeli counterparts in extinguishing fires caused by Hamas rocket explosions. The firefighters from Los Angeles, Texas and Washington DC, have been working around the clock in Israel’s south in extinguishing blazes and helping to find the rockets that land in open areas. "We were all part of the massive tragedy that was 9/11. There we undertook search and rescue missions. When we heard that hundreds of rockets are falling on Israel, we decided to join forces and come and help,” firefighter 51-year-old Billy Hearst of Texas was quoted as saying in Yediot Ahronoth. “We cannot ignore this reality, when Israeli firefighters work hour after hour to save human life.” “The rocket fired by Hamas hit homes in Ashkelon, Sderot and other communities. We have already been at scenes in a number of such communities, our mission is not simple, hard and exhausting, but we must help, the situation here is insufferable,” Hearst said. An Emergency Volunteer Project official said there are 30 other American firefighters waiting to come to Israel to volunteer. (via Israel21c)
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