Egypt proposes ceasefire initiative in Gaza conflict

Gaza health officials say Israeli air strikes have killed 170 Palestinians in latest violence

Tue, Jul 15, 2014, 07:17

Egypt is proposing a temporary ceasefire as a first step in ending the latest Israeli-Palestinian conflict that has left more than 175 people dead.

The Foreign Ministry announced a three-step plan starting with a 12-hour ceasefire by the Israelis and the Gaza Strip’s Hamas rulers that would take effect tomorrow morning. That would be followed by the opening of border crossings and talks in Cairo between the two sides.

The proposal was expected to be discussed at an Arab League meeting of foreign ministers later tonight.

The Israel security cabinet is to meet tomorrow to discuss the ceasefire proposal, as Israeli official has said tonight. Up to now, neither side has shown a willingness to halt hostilities.

Israel is demanding guarantees of an extended period of quiet, while Hamas seeks an easing of an Israeli-Egyptian blockade on Hamas-controlled Gaza

Palestinian militants had resumed rocket attacks on Tel Aviv today after a 24-hour lull in strikes on the Israeli commercial capital, and Israel kept up its air and naval bombardments of the Gaza Strip despite growing international pressure for a ceasefire.

The military said it had shot down a drone from Gaza, the first reported deployment of an unmanned aircraft by Palestinian militants and a possible step up in the sophistication of their arsenal, although it was not clear whether it was armed.

Their rocket attacks have been regularly intercepted but more than half a dozen Israelis have been wounded since the start of the week-old offensive. Gaza health officials say Israeli air strikes have killed 170 Palestinians, most of them civilians.

With international calls mounting for a ceasefire, Egyptian media said US secretary of state John Kerry was due in Cairo tomorrow for talks on the Gaza situation. There was no immediate US confirmation of the report.

The European Union said it was in touch with “all parties in the region” to press for an immediate halt to the hostilities, the worst flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian violence for almost two years.

Two members of prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet suggested a truce might be in the works. “There are contacts all the time,” communications minister Gilad Erdan said when asked about the possibility of Mr Kerry visiting Cairo.

Economics minister Naftali Bennett said in remarks on Channel 2 television “all options are on the table”, though the far-right leader said the fighting could also go on.

The violence was prompted by the murder of three Israeli teenagers and revenge killing of a Palestinian youth. Israeli officials said today three people arrested over the Palestinian’s death had confessed to burning him alive.