JERUSALEM, July 15 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday that Israel will intensify its Gaza campaign if Hamas rejects an Egyptian ceasefire agreement, according to a statement from his office.
Netanyahu made the statements to reporters after meeting with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is currently visiting the region in hope of helping facilitate a truce between Israel and Hamas.
"We agreed to the Egyptian proposal in order to give a chance for the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip, from missiles, rockets and tunnels, through diplomatic means," Netanyahu said, according to the statement.
"If Hamas does not accept the ceasefire proposal, as would now seem to be the case, Israel would have all the international legitimacy to expand the military operation to achieve the required quiet," Netanyahu added.
Netanyahu's statements come as several rocket barrages hit Israel early Tuesday after the deadline stated in the ceasefire agreement, across south and south central Israel.
Earlier on Tuesday, Israel's security cabinet agreed to an Egyptian ceasefire proposal, which would put an end to the eight- day long Operation Protective Edge.
According to the Egyptian proposal, the ceasefire would start at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday (6:00 GMT) and last for 48 hours, after which both parties' officials will discuss the understandings reached in November 2012, after the operation Pillar of Defense.
Hamas, on its part, announced on its website the ceasefire agreement is a "surrender" and insisted Israel would release 56 Palestinians affiliated with the organization, arrested in an Israeli military operation in the West Bank last month, following the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teens.
Operation Protective Edge started a week ago, with the Israeli Air Force striking more than 1,500 targets, killing 178 Palestinians and wounding 1,100 of them.
More than 700 rockets and mortars were fired at Israeli communities in the past week throughout south, south central and central Israel, with some rockets hitting the northern city of Haifa, some 130 km north of the Gaza Strip.