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Israeli media said a delegation from Israel had also been to Cairo for the truce talks. A spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government declined comment on the matter.
“Israel is prepared and has taken steps, and is ready for a ground incursion which will deal severely with the Hamas military machine,” a senior official close to Netanyahu told Reuters.
But he added: “We would prefer to see a diplomatic solution that would guarantee the peace for Israel’s population in the south. If that is possible, then a ground operation would no longer be required. If diplomacy fails, we may well have no alternative but to send in ground forces.”
The official’s language echoed that of U.S. President Barack Obama, who said on Sunday it would be “preferable” to avoid a move into Gaza. Obama also said Israel had a right to self-defence and no country would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens.
Egyptian negotiators could be close to achieving a deal between Israel and the Palestinians to stop the fighting could be close, the Egyptian prime minister said.
“I think we are close, but the nature of this kind of negotiation, (means) it is very difficult to predict,” Hisham Kandil said in an interview in Cairo for the Reuters Middle East Investment Summit.
Egypt’s foreign minister is expected to visit Gaza on Tuesday with a delegation of Arab ministers to express solidarity with the Palestinians.
In scenes recalling Israel’s 2008-2009 winter invasion of Gaza, tanks, artillery and infantry have massed in field encampments along the sandy, fenced-off Gaza border and military convoys moved on roads in the area.