The head of Hamas said Israel must end its blockade of the Gaza Strip if a cease-fire is to be agreed, as Israeli ground forces honed preparations to enter the territory for the first time in almost four years. As United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Egypt today to help broker an end to the fighting, the political head of Hamas told reporters in Cairo that it hadn't asked for a truce. The Palestinian Islamist group is considered a terrorist group by Israel, the U.S. and the European Union.
Israeli officials said any cease-fire must include a long- term agreement with Hamas to halt the rocket fire. "Without that, there's no point," Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said in an interview with Army Radio. The escalating conflict between Israel and Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, threatens a region still unbalanced after a wave of popular uprisings last year. Israel has massed tanks on its border east of Gaza and began to call up 75,000 reservists for a possible ground operation.
Left, smoke rises after an Israeli forces strike in Gaza City on Monday, Nov. 19, 2012.