|Israel Will Continue 'Neutralizing' Tunnels During Cease-Fire|
|By MEGHAN KENEALLY (@mkeneally) and BEN CANDEA (@bencandea)||Jul 25, 2014, 7:49 PM|
Israeli forces will continue "neutralizing" tunnels in Gaza despite a 12-hour cease-fire Saturday, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced today.
The cease-fire in Gaza will be in effect from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time (1 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET).
"During this time, the Operational activities to locate and neutralize tunnels in the Gaza Strip will continue," read a statement from the IDF.
A U.S. official said there was no word from Hamas on whether they'd agree to the cease-fire.
Secretary of State John Kerry had called for a seven-day cease-fire earlier in the day during a news conference in Cairo as part of last-ditch efforts to resolve the 18-day conflict. He had proposed the cease-fire over the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday next week, marking the end of Ramadan.
He's now headed to Paris for another round of talks.
Kerry said that there was never any formal proposal on which to hold a UN vote, suggesting that reports that Israel had rejected a cease-fire deal were inaccurate.
"They may have voted on language from a framework but there was no proposal submitted by me on which there was a proposal or a ripe one," he said. "It's fair to say that Israel had some opposition to some concepts, but that doesn't mean a proposal, by any means."
As soon as Kerry finished his remarks, Israeli Minister of Defense Moshe Ya'alon announced that troops should be prepared for an expansion of their ground invasion in Gaza.
Mediators originally tried to sell this latest proposal as a week-long humanitarian truce designed to help the hundreds of wounded Palestinians. Israel wanted the deal to include a stipulation that some of its troops be allowed to remain in Gaza during the humanitarian cease-fire.
Kerry flew to Egypt and, later, Israel before returning to Cairo this week to help broker a deal alongside United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.
He formally made the proposal to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Thursday evening and the Israeli Security Council held a meeting this afternoon to vote on the deal.
The U.N. has proposed a 12-hour "pause" in fighting to which, Ban says, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed, and that Ban and Kerry hope would be extended to 24 hours.
Kerry made no mention today of Palestinian militant group Hamas, only referring to “many different Palestinian factions.”
Hamas, which has been accused of firing hundreds of rockets into Israel throughout the conflict, had rejected an earlier cease-fire deal.
The conflict, which emerged after three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and killed, eventually escalated and the Israeli Defense Forces launched Operation Protective Edge July 8.
Hundreds of Palestinians and dozens of Israelis, mostly soldiers, have died in the conflict.