Middle East

Gaza conflict: Egypt seeks new Israel-Hamas ceasefire

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Media captionKevin Connolly reports from Gaza on the ceasefire negotiations in Cairo

Egypt has urged Israel and Palestinian factions to accept a proposal for a fresh 72-hour ceasefire in Gaza beginning on Sunday evening.

However, there is no confirmation that the two sides have agreed a new truce.

Talks in Cairo were strained after Palestinian negotiators said they would leave on Sunday if Israel failed to attend without conditions.

Israel said it would not negotiate "under fire", warning that its military campaign would take time.

A spokesman for the Palestinian militant movement Hamas, which controls Gaza, told AFP news agency that the response to the new Egyptian ceasefire proposal would depend on "the seriousness of the Israeli position".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the operation would continue until "the restoration of quiet over a protracted period" was achieved.

"I said at the beginning and throughout the operation - it will take time, and stamina is required," he said at his weekly cabinet meeting.

In other developments:

  • three people have been killed in Gaza in Israeli air strikes on Sunday, including a 14-year-old boy, according to health officials
  • an 11-year-old boy has been shot dead in a West Bank refugee camp near Hebron in unclear circumstances, Palestinian officials say
  • at least nine Palestinians were killed on Saturday as Israel launched 50 air strikes

More than 1,900 Palestinians - mostly civilians - been killed since violence erupted in Gaza in early July, according to the UN.

Sixty-seven people have died on the Israeli side, including three civilians.

'Crucial 24 hours'

Israeli negotiators have already left Egypt and said they would not return to the indirect negotiations until rocket fire from Gaza stopped.

The Jerusalem Post quoted senior Israeli officials as saying that if rocket fire continued, "all options" were on the table, not just air strikes.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Israel says Palestinian militants have fired at least 70 rockets since the truce lapsed
Image copyright AP
Image caption Three people are reported to have died when an Israeli strike hit a mosque in Gaza on Saturday

Communications Minister Gilad Erdan told Israel's Channel 2 that "a wide ground incursion and the toppling of Hamas is being discussed".

Hamas deputy chief Mussa Abu Marzuq accused Israel of stalling and said the next 24 hours would decide the fate of the Cairo talks.

On Saturday, the foreign minsters of France, the UK and Germany said in a joint statement that the only way to resolve the conflict was through talks.

"We call upon all parties immediately to return to a ceasefire. We fully support the ongoing efforts by Egypt to this end," they said.

Earlier, the US and the United Nations issued a similar call for a ceasefire.

Hamas said Israel had failed to meet its key demands, including the lifting of the Gaza blockade and the release of prisoners.

It also rejected Israel's call for the demilitarisation of Gaza.

On Saturday, tens of thousands of protesters marched through London, Paris and Cape Town in what organisers called a Day of Rage against Israeli military action in Gaza.

About 150 protesters also held a demonstration in Tel Aviv, Israel, despite Israeli authorities banning the gathering.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Protesters on both sides marched in Washington DC
Image copyright AP
Image caption Palestinians try to salvage books in a badly hit mosque amid ongoing air strikes in Gaza City on Saturday

Palestinian health officials said at least nine people died in several separate air strikes on Saturday.

Israel said it killed four Hamas militants, including one senior leader.

Israel said more than 70 rockets had been fired from Gaza since the end of the ceasefire.

Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on 8 July with the stated aim of halting rocket fire from militants in Gaza and destroying the network of tunnels it said were used by militants to launch attacks inside Israel.

Human cost of the conflict

Palestinian deaths

  • 1,935 killed, including at least 1,408 civilians
  • 452 children
  • 235 women

Israeli deaths

  • 64 soldiers
  • 2 civilians
  • 1 Thai national in Israel

(Source: OCHA; 0800 GMT on 9 August)

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