Fresh 72-hour truce begins in Gaza

Gaza City - A fresh 72-hour ceasefire between Israel and Hamas came into effect in Gaza on Monday, paving the way for talks in Egypt aimed at a durable end to a month-long conflict that has wreaked devastating bloodshed.

The agreement, which began at 00:01 (2101 GMT on Sunday), clinched days of frantic mediation to stem a firestorm of violence that has killed 1 939 Palestinians and 67 on the Israeli side since 8 July.

Minutes before the truce began, Hamas's armed wing claimed it fired "several" rockets at Israel, including one at Tel Aviv. There were no immediate reports of any damage.

Egypt urged Israel and the Palestinians to use the new truce to "reach a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire", after an earlier three-day truce collapsed on Friday.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also said he hoped it would give the two sides "another chance to agree on a durable ceasefire for the benefit of all civilian populations and as a starting point to address the underlying grievances on both sides", a statement from his spokesperson said.

"The United Nations stands ready to assist in the implementation of an agreement that would consolidate peace and allow for much needed reconstruction and development of Gaza," the statement added.

The ceasefire must lead to the lifting by Israel of its blockade of the Gaza Strip, Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal told AFP in an exclusive interview in Doha on Sunday.

"We insist on this goal," he said. "In the case of Israeli procrastination or continued aggression, Hamas is ready with other Palestinian factions to resist on the ground and politically," he added.

Veteran Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat arrived in Cairo on Sunday night for talks with Egyptian and Arab League officials on behalf of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, an airport official said.

Israel said its team would only return to Cairo once the truce went into force.

"If there is a full ceasefire on the ground the Israeli delegation will arrive in Egypt tomorrow," an Israeli government official said Sunday night.

Gaza reconstruction

Palestinian delegates in Cairo told reporters that they were happy for the Palestinian Authority, headed by president Mahmoud Abbas, to take over the reconstruction of Gaza and execute any agreement reached.

Israel refuses to deal with Hamas, branding it a terrorist organisation.

"The national unity government and the Palestinian Authority will take over the execution of all that will be agreed upon during the truce talks," Azzam al-Ahmed, head of the Palestinian delegation, told reporters.

"We are backing the setting up of a national body to be formed by president Abbas, which will take over the reconstruction [of Gaza]," said senior Hamas official Ezzat al-Rishq.

"The president of the body should be professional, credible and one who will be accepted internationally."

Seven Gazans, including a woman and two 17-year-olds, were killed on the eve of the truce in a barrage of Israeli air strikes, and another 10 bodies were pulled from the rubble of previous strikes east of Gaza City, local medics said.

Hamas had refused to extend the 72-hour lull when it expired on Friday, and Israel accused the Islamist faction of breaching the agreement in its final hours with rocket attacks.

In the gap between ceasefires, warplanes hit more than 170 targets, killing at least 19 people, while the Palestinians fired at least 136 rockets at Israel, of which 93 hit and 13 were shot down, with the rest falling short inside Gaza, the army said.

'God loves martyrs'

The UN says just under three quarters of those killed in Gaza were civilians. Around a third of the civilian victims were children.

In Deir al-Balah, angry young men bellowed slogans as they carried the bloodied body of a 17-year-old to its grave. The Israeli army described the youth as a "prominent terror operative".

"God loves martyrs! We will march on Jerusalem in our millions," chanted mourners.

Israel said it closed its Kerem Shalom crossing used to truck supplies into the southern Gaza Strip after it was struck twice by rocket fire.

"Israel will not engage in negotiations under fire," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet on Sunday, warning the operation would not stop until there was a prolonged quiet.

In the West Bank, an 11-year-old Palestinian boy was shot dead by Israeli troops as he played outside his home in Al-Fawwar refugee camp near the southern city of Hebron, relatives and medics said.

The army said troops had opened fire during a "violent riot", but it has opened an investigation into the circumstances of the shooting.

The resumption of fighting had put Netanyahu under increased pressure from hardliners to send ground troops back in to Gaza to topple Hamas.

All Nasir 2014/08/11 06:22:39 AM
I really wish the media in general would stop framing this as a war. There is no army in Gaza, no tanks, no helicopters, no armoured cars, no fighter jets, no proper command center/comms, no gunboats etc. On one side, there are militants firing mostly homemade, unguided, low yield rockets from an open air prison camp, the vast majority of which fall on open ground, the majority of the remaining ones are intercepted by Iron dome, and on the other side you have the regional superpower firing state of the art munitions into the prison camp, killing the people it imprisons and blockades. It is not a war, it is a slaughter.
Walter Oldnal Latham 2014/08/11 06:23:11 AM
I wonder how long this one will last before the shocking Hamas fire another rocket at Israel...... They're like a drunken boxer whose down but still believes he can win!!!! Then the world starts pointing fingers at Israel again for retaliating.
Thobi Milano Pheto 2014/08/11 06:27:34 AM
Kill 1000 Palestine then truce after 5 hours kill another 2000 then truce after 2 hours kill kill until there's no about invading people's spaces and killing them
Anthoula Joshua 2014/08/11 06:46:40 AM
Here we go again. Until Hamas starts again first and fires rockets at Israel.
Ennio Morricone 2014/08/11 07:16:31 AM
So the killing of 11 yr old in West bank as he played outside, confirms the IDF as Terror machine like ISIS, NUSRA front etc, and not Hamas who are only trying to liberate their pple.
Jannie du Toit 2014/08/11 07:25:31 AM
It won't hold,watch this space
Kobus Pienaar 2014/08/11 07:29:20 AM
I don't get the issue with the checkpoints that everyone is harping on about. Do we not also have checkpoints between us and other countries?. People from Botswana or Namibia cannot just waltz into SA. They have to go through a checkpoint (border crossing). So why is it different when Israel has the same for Gaza residents when Gaza and the world insists they are a separate country/state from Israel. If South Africa was in a similar situation as Israel, with a group of people from our north insisting that they want to take piece of our country and firing rockets at our citizens, I would expect our government to retaliate...they would not be much of a vovernment if they did not. So why is it wrong when the Israel Government does the same. And people dying is part of war. You cannot blame Israel for people dying when they retaliate to protect their citizens. If Hamas was in any way legitimate or concerned about the people of Gaza as they claim to be, they would in the first place be proud of their stance and not hide behind balaclavas and mask when photographed or on TV, and secondly they would not wage the war from inside the civilian population. Doing that is pure cowardice.
Stephen AndKathy Whiteley 2014/08/11 07:30:34 AM
Constitutionally, the government of Palestine must take responsibility for Hamas. S
Neil Henry Wood 2014/08/11 07:36:08 AM
Long live ignorance
Cyberfriend 2014/08/11 07:56:02 AM
The famous bombing of King David hotel which took place on the 22 July 1946,was committed by a Jewish terrorist group known as a Irgun under the leadership Menichem Begin a Jewish terrorist who killed 91 innocent people and injured 41 ,labeled by the British as the biggest terrorist attack,he was called terrorist number one by the British government,after a few years he becomes the president of Israel and a few later gets the Nobel prize for peace. If you see the world map before 1945 Israel did not exist,they stole the land from Palestinians who welcomed them with opened arms ,They kicked the palestinians out of their own land, Now the government and the pro greedy Zionist supporters that agree with this unjust cause label the Palestinian as terrorists.