U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) and Egypt's President Mohamed Mursi meet at the presidential palace in Cairo November 21, 2012. (Photo : Reuters)
Israel is preparing its troops for a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, as the current exchange of rockets between the two neighboring lands enters its second week.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cut short her Asia trip with President Obama to head to the Middle East to join peace talks, already in progress.
Those talks seem to have broken down amid dissension from factions on both sides. Reports say Israeli Minister of Defense and former Prime Minister Ehud Barak supported the ceasefire, while current Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu opposed it.
The political and military wings of Hamas were split, as well, with politicians favoring a ceasefire in stages, and military officials holding out for an end to the Israeli blockade.
Hamas is Palestinian militant group that has been elected to govern the Gaza Strip.
"It appears the details had not been fully worked out on both sides," said a diplomat with access to the negotiations, speaking to The Guardian. "Egypt wanted a staged approach to the ceasefire but it seems both parties moved towards wanting to negotiate something more comprehensive.
"The regional situation has become more complicated too," he added. "In the Mubarak era it was much more straightforward for Egypt to act as a mediator for ceasefires between Hamas and Gaza in Israel. Now it is more complex with Qatar and Turkey also part of the picture.
"Another complicating factor is that there is a new regime in Egypt, although both the security structures and the Muslim Brotherhood seem to be pulling in the same direction on this."
Rocket fire continued from Gaza into Israel on Wednesday
The death toll has now climbed to about 130 people, nearly all Palestinians, more than half of whom were civilians, including children. Nearly a thousand people have been injured on both sides of the conflict.
The goal of the international community is to avoid a ground invasion of Gaza by Israel, which happened in 2008.
As much as 70 percent of the Israeli population opposes another invasion, but senior officials in Israel seem to be pushing for a ground assault.
"Israel is prepared and has taken steps, and is ready for a ground incursion which will deal severely with the Hamas military machine," said an official close to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"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," he added.
If Israel does invade, it will be the first time a full military force has crossed into Palestinian territory since the Arab Spring. Egypt is under democratic rule, as is Tunisia and Libya, and leaders in those countries may want to solidify support among conservative Muslims by backing Palestinians in the face of apparent Israeli aggression.