- (Photo: Reuters/
Egypt's intelligence chief is trying to hold talks between Israel and Hamas to forge a truce as both sides have fired about 1,900 rockets, killing 49 people and wounding 458 others. The United States has left it to Israel to decide if a ground invasion is necessary.
Egyptian intelligence chief, Mohammed Shehata, was in talks with both sides on Saturday to reach a cease-fire with no clear conclusion yet, according to CNN.
Shehata met with Hamas leader Khalid Meshaal in the Egyptian capital of Cairo in an attempt "to calm the situation and stop the Zionist assault on Gaza," the Palestinian Information Center said.
U.S. President Barack Obama's Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters Saturday that Israel is to decide "their own military tactics and operations."
"There's a broad preference for de-escalation if it can be achieved in a way that ends that threat to Israeli citizens," Reuters quoted Rhodes, who was traveling on Air Force One to Asia, as saying.
Washington will work behind the scenes, Rhodes indicated, adding that Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had spoken on the phone every day since the violence began. Obama, he said, had also spoken with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The United States blames the flare up on Gaza's targeting of civilian areas in Israel, and has said Israel has a right to defend itself.
Israel is showing readiness for a ground invasion. Convoys carrying tens of thousands of Israeli soldiers rolled toward Gaza Saturday, CNN said. The Israeli government has authorized calling up 75,000 reservists.
"Israel will take all necessary and legitimate measures to defend its citizens, including ground operations," Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren was quoted as saying.
Meshaal's delegation has told the Egyptian intelligence chief that "all acts of aggression and assassination" from Israel should stop and Israel's blockade on Gaza should be lifted before Hamas will consider stopping the rockets targeting Israeli cities.
Hamas has fired more than 900 rockets at Israel, which has responded with about 1,000 rockets, since the fighting began. At least 46 people have been killed and 440 people wounded in Gaza since Israel's military operation began Wednesday. In Israel, three people have been killed and 18 injured.
Oren said while Israel regrets loss of civilian life in Gaza, the country wants to send a message to Hamas that killing of Israeli civilians cannot be carried out with impunity. Israel, he added, was willing to negotiate with its neighbors.