WASHINGTON (JTA) — Israel rejected U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s cease-fire proposal.
“We are not announcing that it has been achieved tonight,” Kerry said in Cairo on Friday night. “The world is watching tragic moment after tragic moment unfold and wondering when both sides are going to come to their senses.”
Kerry said he wanted a seven-day humanitarian cease-fire during which the sides would discuss “fundamental” issues that could extend the truce, according to a BBC reporter covering the press conference, but did not add details.
Israeli media had earlier reported that Israel’s security Cabinet rejected the truce because it did not allow Israel adequate means to demolish Hamas’ tunnel system. Israeli reports said Israeli officials told Kerry that they would consider improved truce proposals.
It was not clear what limits Israel rejected, because multiple reports suggested the cease-fire included an allowance for Israel to continue dismantling the tunnels.
There was no official word of Hamas’ reaction, but reports on CNN and Israel Radio said the group, which controls Gaza, rejected the cease-fire precisely because it allowed Israel to remain in the tunnels.
A U.S. official told JTA that Kerry would continue to try to achieve a cease-fire.
Israel says Hamas built the tunnels to carry out terrorist attacks inside Israel.
Israel’s army meanwhile announced the latest Israeli casualty, Sgt. Guy Levy, 21, who died in fighting on Friday.
That brings to 35 the number of Israeli soldiers killed in the Israel-Hamas conflict, which started July 8 when Israel launched air strikes after an intensification of rocket fire from Gaza. Another three Israeli civilians have been killed. More than 820 Palestinians have been killed, most of them civilians.