Egypt presses on with Gaza truce efforts

Gaza - Israeli air strikes killed at least five Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and militants kept up their rocket fire on southern Israel on Monday, witnesses and officials said, as Egypt pressed on with efforts to broker a durable truce.

Gazans said they received new recorded messages on mobile phones and landlines saying Israel would target any house used to launch "terror attacks" and telling civilians to leave areas used my militants.

Israeli aircraft attacked four homes in the Gaza town of Beit Lahiya, near the Israeli border, killing two women and a girl, witnesses and health officials said.

Locals told Reuters a member of the Hamas militant group that dominates Gaza lived in one of the dwellings. Separate attacks elsewhere in the Gaza Strip killed two other Palestinians, said officials.

'The battle is open'

Militants launched about 40 rockets at southern Israel on Monday, causing no casualties, the army said.

Palestinian health officials say 2 119 people, most of them civilians including more than 400 children, have been killed in Gaza since 8 July, when Israel launched an offensive with the declared aim of ending rocket fire into its territory.

Sixty-four Israeli soldiers and four civilians in Israel have been killed.

Gazans said they had received messages on their phones for several days, with a new recording on Monday ending with the words: "To Hamas leaders and to the residents of Gaza: The battle is open and you have been warned."

Qais Abu Leila, a senior Palestinian official involved in Egyptian-mediated talks to reach a truce in seven weeks of fighting, said Cairo had proposed an indefinite ceasefire.

Cairo's latest initiative calls for the immediate opening of Gaza's crossings with Israel and Egypt to aid reconstruction efforts in the battered coastal strip to be followed by talks on a longer-term easing of the blockade.

"Egyptian efforts are continuing. The ball is in the Israeli court, and they have not responded to this proposal 36 hours after it was referred to them," Abu Leila told Reuters.

Hamas has said it will not stop fighting until the Israeli-Egyptian blockade on the enclave of 1.8 million people is lifted.

Both Israel and Egypt view Hamas as a security threat and are demanding guarantees that weapons will not enter the economically-crippled territory. Israel recalled its negotiators from Cairo on Tuesday after a ceasefire collapsed.

'No place is safe'

In Gaza City on Sunday, an Israeli strike on a car killed Mohammed al-Ghoul, described by the Israeli military as a Hamas official responsible for "terror fund transactions". US dollars were found in the wrecked vehicle, witnesses said.

Israel later bombed and destroyed Ghoul's house. He was targeted three days after Israel assassinated three top Hamas commanders in the southern Gaza Strip.

Thousands of homes in the Gaza Strip have been destroyed or damaged in the conflict. Nearly 500 000 people have been displaced in the territory where Palestinians, citing Israeli attacks that have hit schools and mosques, say no place is safe.

Israel has said Hamas bears responsibility for civilian casualties because it operates among non-combatants. The group, it said, uses schools and mosques to store weapons and as launching sites for cross-border rocket attacks.

Shaun O'Meara 2014/08/25 05:51:58 PM
Hamas don't want peace. You are wasting your time.
David Jones 2014/08/25 06:17:01 PM
How nice. Netanyahu's son has challenged his father for an ASL Ice Bucket. I wish Netanyahu could do the same with one of the Hamas leaders and than propose for dialogue and negotiations
Cyberfriend 2014/08/25 06:22:55 PM
Time to look at new mediators the illegitimate government of Egypt is not doing a good job.
Cyberfriend 2014/08/25 06:24:33 PM
I quote the article above "Israeli aircraft attacked four homes in the Gaza town of Beit Lahiya, near the Israeli border, killing two women and a girl, witnesses and health officials said."
Makhulu Zulu 2014/08/25 06:34:32 PM
Israel is first class citizen. Palestinians are third class. As long as this apartheid remains, the fight will continue. Panzi Apartheid Israel!
Laura De Villiers Kenigsberg 2014/08/25 07:42:42 PM
Anyone else notice that the number of casualties on the Palestinian side keeps changing? Earlier it was 500 children killed, now it's 400 children. Whenever an article mentions the attack on mohammed diefs house the casualties are always different - from his wife and two year old daughter killed, to his second wife and baby boy killed, to another man killed plus wife and baby, to wife, baby and three others killed, to his wife and two children killed. such differences!! Makes no sense to any reasonable person..
Ro-Anne Nasreen Naidoo 2014/08/25 08:03:37 PM
All those supporting Israel r just as heartless as Netanyahu himself. The genocide taking place cannot be justified. Using hama as an excuse is also unacceptable. It seems as tho an Israeli life is more valuable than a Palestine an. Gaza is in ruins and it's just getting worse. Was hama hiding in graves when Israel attacked the cemeteries while the dead were being hurried? Hamas was never a threat to Israel. Remember Israel is the occupiers n the oppressors. South Africans experienced this during apartheid, Don't forget u r history. The ANC were once labelled as terrorists because they resisted the apartheid regime. The people of Gaza just want to be free n live humanely as possible. Israel needs to be charged with war crimes. #freeGaza #freePalestine #stopthegenocide #zionistsareevil
Ro-Anne Nasreen Naidoo 2014/08/25 08:17:27 PM
Exactly what is the civilian death rate in Israel again? U can count them on 1 hand. Do u know that Israel has an iron dome protecting their airspace? Do u know that Hamas weapons cannot be compared to Israel weapons of mass destruction. How is this a fair war again?
Ro-Anne Nasreen Naidoo 2014/08/25 08:19:43 PM
Israel only came about in 1948, prior to that it was all Palestine. But the greedy sinister saw it as a land without a people n they were a people without a land. So let's remind people of the Holocaust n call them anti-semit if they don't support Israel.
Ro-Anne Nasreen Naidoo 2014/08/25 08:45:43 PM
U r argument is as strong as that of Mark Regevs. But we all entitled to our own opinions, beliefs. Thankfully South Africa got the freedom we deserved. Let's hope the same for the people of Palestine.