Gaza op to continue, Netanyahu says, as Palestinians present cease-fire demands

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Israeli army is nearing the end of its tunnels operation, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, but the Gaza operation is not over.

Israel has withdrawn troops from many areas of Gaza.

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“The campaign in Gaza is continuing,” Netanyahu said Monday following a discussion at the Israel Defense Forces’ Southern Command headquarters in Beersheba. “What is about to conclude is the IDF action to deal with the tunnels, but this operation will end only when quiet and security are restored to the citizens of Israel for a lengthy period. We struck a very severe blow at Hamas and the other terrorist organizations.”

Netanyahu also visited wounded soldiers at Soroka Hospital in Beersheba.

On Sunday, a Palestinian delegation in Cairo made up of leaders of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority presented joint demands for a truce with Israel.

Among the demands are an Israeli troop withdrawal from Gaza; an end to the blockade on Gaza of goods and people;  the release of recently rearrested prisoners who had been freed in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange; the reconstruction of Gaza, including the port and the airport; and extension of Palestinian fishing rights to 12 nautical miles.

Israel refused to attend the talks because of the collapse of previous cease-fire attempts.