JERUSALEM, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- A truce suspending the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza was to take effect at 9 p.m., local time, Israel Radio reported Tuesday.
Jerusalem was expected to announce the suspension in hostilities at the same time a news conference announcing the truce was scheduled in Cairo by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Egyptian officials, the report said.
Despite the announcement, however, Israeli security officials said they expected Gaza militants to continue firing rockets, making it necessary for Israeli troops to remain in place should the cease-fire collapse.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, cutting short her Asia tour with President Obama, headed for the region.
Israel Radio, quoting unnamed officials close to the truce talks, said the Jewish state will agree to a cease-fire it hopes will last for at least two years, enforced by Israel, the United States and Egypt. After two years and in the event Israel comes under attack by Hamas in Gaza, Israel will be forced once again to act against the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza, the report said.
Rockets pounded southern Israel Tuesday and sirens blared in Jerusalem and the surrounding area as well. Israeli police said a rocket fell in an open area in Gush Etzion. Hamas' military wing claimed responsibility.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, met with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in Jerusalem and was to meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres later in the day. Prior to setting out for Israel, Ban urged all sides to "halt fire immediately" during a press conference in Cairo.
"Further escalating the situation will put the entire region at risk," he said.
Ban was later to travel to Ramallah for talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, also visiting Israel, met with Peres and Netanyahu. He told the Israeli prime minister Israel has the right to defend itself against rocket attacks but expressed concern over the repercussions of a possible ground offensive, Israel Radio said.
In Gaza, Arab League Secretary-General Nabil al-Araby and 16 foreign ministers from the league's member states were to arrive in Gaza, joined by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Iran's Foreign Minister also announced plans to visit Gaza in the coming days, the report said.
Hamas leader Khaled Meshal said Monday the military wing of his Palestinian Sunni Islamist group that governs the Gaza Strip would stop firing rockets only if Israel stops its airstrikes first.
"Whoever started the war must end it," he said at a news conference, ignoring that Israeli airstrikes began in retaliation for rocket-fire from Gaza into southern Israel. "If Israel wants a cease-fire brokered through Egypt, then that is possible. Escalation is also possible."
Despite discussions aimed at restoring calm, dozens of rockets were fired at southern Israel in communities surrounding Gaza as well as in Beersheba, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ofakim and Be'er Tuviya. An Israeli reservist deployed in the South was injured by shrapnel in a mortar attack and extensive damage was caused to property, the Israeli army said. Another Israeli was critically wounded when a house in the Eshkol region suffered a direct hit.
In Gaza, Palestinians said at least five people were killed in airstrikes bringing the number of fatalities since Operation Pillar of Defense began seven days ago to more than 100. Three Israelis have been killed in rocket attacks.
Israeli government sources said Israel is examining Hamas' request to ease the blockade on Gaza and wants guarantees from Hamas that it will refrain from attacks.