BBC News

Gaza conflict deaths pass 800 as Kerry pushes ceasefire

media captionThe BBC's Chris Morris in Gaza: "More destruction in this narrow strip of land"

Efforts to secure a ceasefire between Israel and the militant Hamas movement are intensifying as more people have been killed in the 18-day conflict.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has been in Cairo meeting Egypt's foreign minister and the UN secretary general.

Five Palestinians were killed in the West Bank on Friday, while one Israeli soldier was killed in northern Gaza.

Activists called for a "day of rage" over the deaths of 800 Palestinians in Gaza. Israel has lost 36 people.

Most of the Palestinian deaths have been civilians, the UN says, while 34 of Israel's dead have been soldiers. One Thai worker was also killed by rocket fire in Israel.

image copyrightAFP
image captionIsraeli plainclothes police officers make an arrest after Friday Prayers in East Jerusalem
image copyrightReuters
image captionAn officer then confronts a suspected Palestinian stone-thrower
image copyrightAFP
image captionA Palestinian points a flare at Israeli police officers
image copyrightAFP
image captionIsraeli police watch Palestinians praying in East Jerusalem

Israel launched new air strikes on targets in Gaza on Friday, and said it had killed a senior member of militant group Islamic Jihad.

The Israeli military reported new rocket launches by militants inside the Gaza Strip, with several intercepted.

Israel launched its military offensive on 8 July with the declared objective of stopping Hamas firing rockets into Israel, extending its operation since then to destroy tunnels dug by militants to infiltrate its territory.

Hopes rose for at least a limited deal on Friday as it emerged that Mr Kerry, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and UN chief Ban Ki-moon were planning a news conference for later in the day.

Mr Kerry is expected to leave the region on Friday, whether or not a deal is agreed.

The plan is thought to include provision for a temporary pause in hostilities that could begin as soon as this weekend.

image copyrightEPA
image captionSmoke over the Gaza Strip after Israeli air strikes on Friday
image copyrightEPA
image captionAn Israeli troop carrier heads towards the Gaza Strip

Analysis: Bethany Bell, BBC News, Jerusalem

Intensive diplomatic efforts to negotiate an end to the violence are continuing. It is understood that US Secretary of State John Kerry and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon are proposing a two-part ceasefire plan.

The first stage would be a temporary humanitarian truce that would go into effect at the start of the Muslim festival of Eid next week. The pause in hostilities would then, it is proposed, allow negotiations on a more permanent ceasefire.

But it is not clear if the two sides will be able to agree. It is thought that Israel wants to keep its troops on the ground during the temporary ceasefire, to give it more time to destroy the cross-border tunnels. For its part, Hamas is pushing for what it calls a "genuine guarantee" that the blockade on Gaza will be lifted.

image copyrightReuters
image captionA girl grieves at a funeral in the Qalandia refugee camp near the West Bank city of Ramallah

Israel wants to keep its military in Gaza and continue disabling Hamas tunnels.

Any plan must be approved both by Israel's security cabinet and senior Hamas leaders, including Qatar-based Khaled Meshaal.

In an exclusive interview, Mr Meshaal told the BBC he wanted a ceasefire and an end to Israel's blockade as soon as possible.

media captionHamas leader Khaled Meshaal: "There should be a genuine guarantee to lift the siege in Gaza"

The bloodshed has spread to the West Bank, the larger of the two Palestinian territories

  • Three Palestinian men were shot dead in clashes with Israeli soldiers in the village of Beit Ummar, near Hebron, Palestinian officials and medical sources said
  • Two Palestinian men were shot dead in clashes with Jewish settlers and Israeli soldiers near Nablus, Palestinian officials and medical sources said
  • At least two Palestinians died in overnight protests at Qalandia, in the West Bank, after 10,000 protesters massed and clashed with Israeli border police.

At the scene: Jon Donnison, BBC News, East Jerusalem

There has been a huge Israeli security operation around Muslim Friday prayers in the old city, involving more than 2,000 Israeli police. Palestinian men under the age of 50 were forbidden from praying at the al-Aqsa Mosque.

It follows a night of violence in the West Bank. Outside Ramallah, more than 10,000 Palestinians marched towards Jerusalem and clashed with Israeli soldiers. Two Palestinians were killed and more than 200 were wounded, while 29 Israeli police officers were injured.

There is much anger here about the mounting casualties in Gaza. As ever, there is talk about the possibility of a third Palestinian intifada - or uprising. That may or may not take place. But the situation is as tense in the West Bank as at any time in the last five years.

Israel has been accused of war crimes in a complaint lodged on Friday with the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

It was lodged by French lawyer Gilles Devers, on behalf of Palestinian Justice Minister Saleem al-Saqqa.

Funerals were held for those who died at a UN-run school shelter in Gaza. At least 15 people were killed, includinga six-month-old baby.

media captionIsraeli government spokesman Mark Regev: "It's not clear it's our fire"

The UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) says a 3km (1.9 mile) wide strip, encompassing 44% of Gaza, has been designated as a no-go zone by the Israeli military during the current conflict.

Israel imposed restrictions on the Gaza Strip in 2006, after Hamas abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Related Topics

  • Gaza
  • Hamas
  • Israel