The Middle East was awash with contradictory messages from Israel and Egypt today.
As the Israelis continued their murderous air and sea barrage against the largely defenceless Gazan civilian population, jacking up the list of casualties to over 120 dead and almost 1,000 wounded, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi said that he expects Israeli forces to end air strikes on Gaza later in the day.
He is leading the mediation between Hamas and Israel.
As the Star went to press reports emerged from Hamas sources that a ceasefire could be signed as soon as 7pm London time, although Israeli sources were tight-lipped.
It was suggested that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton might announce a deal later at a Cairo news conference.
It was understood that Israel was prepared to stop assassinating Hamas officials in return for a cessation of the largely ineffectual rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza.
Also rumoured to be in the agreement are an easing of the restrictions on the blockade of Gaza, with border crossing points subject to less stringent controls, which could go some way to reviving the struggling Gazan economy.
Israel's military targeted about 100 sites in Gaza today, including alleged ammunition stores and the Gaza headquarters of the National Islamic Bank, which Hamas uses to pay regional employees.
Despite talk of a ceasefire, the Israeli airforce continued to intensify its so-called "surgical attacks" on residential areas of Gaza City and also dropped leaflets in border areas urging locals to evacuate and head for Gaza City, which it ludicrously described as a "safer" area, in preparation for a proposed ground invasion.
The leaflets not surprisingly caused a panic and hundreds of families packed up their few possessions and headed for temporary accommodation in Gazan school buildings.
Israeli police said that more than 60 rockets were fired from Gaza by midday and 25 of the projectiles had been intercepted by Israel's US-funded Iron Dome anti-missile system.
The fatalities suffered by Israel remained at three.
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