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    Showing posts with label Gaza. Show all posts

    Gaza strikes kill 4, EU pushes truce plan

    Israeli air strikes have killed four Palestinians in Gaza as European governments sought UN action to end more than six weeks of bloodshed.

    Fighting flared anew on Tuesday as Egyptian-brokered truce efforts collapsed, with Israel insistent on its demand for security from rocket fire by Gaza militants, and Hamas defiant over its call for an end to eight years of Israeli blockade.

    The death toll since July 8 now stands at least 2087 Palestinians dead, three-quarters of them civilians according to the United Nations, and 67 on the Israeli side, nearly all of them soldiers.

    Two men aged 22 and 24 were killed in a strike on Nusseirat refugee camp early on Friday, emergency services said.

    Two more were killed in an air raid near neighbouring Deir al-Balah.

    The Israeli military said it struck around 20 targets overnight but did not give details.

    Israeli media said the government was seeking US diplomatic help to head off the European bid at the UN to end the violence, the deadliest since the 2005 end of the second Palestinian intifada or uprising.

    Washington has wielded its veto powers at the UN Security Council repeatedly in the past on behalf of its Israeli ally.

    But relations have been strained over the breakdown of US-brokered peace efforts and concerns over the scale of the civilian death toll in Gaza.
    The draft presented by Britain, France and Germany came after one submitted by Jordan on behalf of the Arab League had run into US opposition.

    The European text urged an immediate and sustainable ceasefire, and a lifting of the Israeli blockade.

    It proposed a mechanism to monitor the ceasefire and supervise the movement of goods into Gaza to allay Israeli security concerns.

    It also called for Gaza's return to the control of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority led by President Mahmoud Abbas, seven years after his loyalists were driven out of the territory by the Islamists of Hams.

    The text provides for the lifting of economic and humanitarian restrictions on Gaza to allow for a massive reconstruction effort.

    UN chief Ban Ki-moon has pledged help to rebuild Gaza, but warned that it would be "for the last time" after three wars in six years.

    But as the diplomatic pressure for a ceasefire intensified, Israel showed no sign of ending its deadly campaign to halt rocket fire by Gaza militants.

    The security cabinet authorised the call-up of up to 10,000 army reservists in a new troop rotation, Israeli media reported.

    Finance Minister Yair Lapid, regarded as one of the less hawkish members of the security cabinet, threatened further deadly attacks on Hamas commanders after three leading militants were killed in a pre-dawn strike on Thursday.

    Israel and Gaza militants 'agree' truce after clashes

    The official was quoted as saying that the Egyptian-mediated truce took effect at 01:00 local time (23:00 GMT Monday).

    A Hamas official later confirmed to the BBC that the truce had been agreed.

    At least 25 Palestinians have died in Israeli air strikes since Friday, reports say. Israel says 35 people were injured in Palestinian rocket attacks.

    The Egyptian official - who spoke on condition of anonymity - was quoted by Reuters as saying late on Monday that both Israel and Gaza militants had "agreed to end the current operations".

    Shortly afterwards, the Hamas official confirmed the truce.

    The official told the BBC that Israel had made an unusual promise to stop targeting militant leaders in Gaza, if rocket attacks on Israel ceased.

    Israel has not publicly commented on the reported ceasefire.

    The cross-border violence was triggered by an Israeli air strike on Friday that killed a senior leader of the militant group, the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), who Israel said had been planning an attack.

    Militants in Gaza responded quickly by unleashing a barrage of rockets towards southern Israel, triggering further air strikes.

    Most of those killed in Gaza were militants, but several civilians also died, Palestinian medical sources say.

    The US has condemned the rocket attacks as "cowardly"; the Arab League called the Israeli air strikes "a massacre".

    UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has expressed grave concern over the flare-up in violence, describing rocket attacks on Israeli civilians as "unacceptable" and urging Israel to "exercise maximum restraint".

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