by Surabhi Vaya Aug 11, 2014 13:43 IST
1:42 om: Israeli delegation arrives in Cairo for truce talks
An Israeli delegation arrived in Cairo on Monday for indirect negotiations with Palestinians on a durable truce in Gaza, officials at the airport and the Israeli defence ministry said.
The Palestinian delegation meanwhile was already locked in talks with Egyptian intelligence mediators, who will relay their demands to the Israeli negotiators, a Palestinian official said.
7:51 am: New 72-hour ceasefire comes into effect in Gaza
A fresh 72-hour ceasefire in Gaza began at 00:01 am Monday on the 33rd day of a conflict between Israel and Hamas that has killed more than 2,000 people.
Israelis and Palestinians agreed to the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire late Sunday, capping days of frantic mediation to stem a firestorm of violence that ignited after an earlier truce collapsed on Friday.
7:31 am: Durable truce must lead to lifting Gaza blockade: Hamas chief
A lasting truce 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.
The 72-hour ceasefire Hamas reached with Israel on Sunday "is one of the ways or tactics to ensure successful negotiations or to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza," said Meshaal.
The final "goal we insist on is having the demands of Palestinians met and the Gaza Strip exist without a blockade".
"We insist on this goal. In the case of Israeli procrastination or continued aggression, Hamas is ready with other Palestinian factions to resist on ground and politically and... to face all possibilities," he said.
The remarks by Meshaal, who lives in exile in Qatar, come as Israeli and Palestinian negotiators on Sunday accepted an Egyptian proposal for a 72-hour ceasefire in Gaza from one minute past midnight local time (21:01 GMT).
7:17 am: Israel accepts Egypt ceasefire proposal: govt official
Israel accepted an Egyptian proposal for a 72-hour ceasefire in Gaza which will go into force within hours, government officials said.
"Israel has accepted the Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire," an official told AFP shortly after a Palestinian source confirmed accepting the initiative which would see both sides halt fire just after midnight (2101 GMT).
"Israel has responded positively to an Egyptian proposal for a 72-hour ceasefire," another official said.
"Last time, Hamas broke another Egyptian proposed ceasefire by firing at Israel even before the 72 hours was up," he said.
He was referring to a three-day ceasefire which began on August 5, bringing relief to millions but which Hamas refused to extend, firing rockets at Israel several hours before it formally expired at 0500 GMT on Friday.
Earlier, a Palestinian official with the delegation in Cairo said Egypt had managed to secure agreement from both sides to hold their fire after more than a month of fighting which has killed close to 2,000 people, the vast majority in Gaza.
He said Egypt had received "simultaneous consensus" from both sides.
It was not immediately clear how the agreement was reached.
Israel's negotiating team was expected to travel to Cairo after the truce was up and running, an official said.
Egypt urged both sides to observe the new temporary lull.
"As the events continue to escalate in the Gaza Strip, and given the necessity to protect innocent blood, Egypt calls on both sides, Israelis and Palestinians, to commit to a 72-hour ceasefire effective Monday 00:01 Cairo time (21:01 GMT Sunday) ... and during this time work to reach a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire," a foreign ministry statement said.
--Updates for August 11 begin here--
--End of updates for August 8--
3:41 pm: Israel calls halt to truce talks amid rocket fire
Israel is pulling out of talks in Cairo on extending a truce with Hamas after a 72-hour ceasefire ended and violence resumed on Friday, an official said.
"Israel will not negotiate under fire," the official said on condition of anonymity, noting Israel had informed Egypt of its willingness to extend the truce by another three days before "Hamas breached the ceasefire".
3:09 pm: Palestinian child killed in Israeli air strike in Gaza: medics
An Israeli air strike killed a 10-year-old child in Gaza City on Friday, the first death reported since a 72-hour truce expired at 0500 GMT, Palestinian medics said.
A woman was wounded in the same attack, emergency services said. Israel announced earlier it had targeted terror sites in the Gaza Strip in response to 18 Palestinian rockets fired towards Israel.
1:48 pm: Israel PM orders 'forceful' retaliation to Gaza fire
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the Israeli military to retaliate after rocket attacks by Gaza Palestinian militants followed the end of a three-day truce, an official said.
"The Israeli prime minister and defence minister have ordered the IDF (Israel defence forces) to retaliate forcefully to the Hamas breach of the ceasefire," an official said in a statement.
The army confirmed it had "targeted terror sites across the Gaza Strip," with a spokeswoman telling AFP that no Israeli soldiers had entered the Palestinian territory.
The Palestinian interior ministry and witnesses said Israeli warplanes struck Jabaliya in northern Gaza, as well as Gaza City and the centre of the Palestinian enclave.
No casualties were immediately reported.
Witnesses also reported artillery shelling east and north of Gaza City.
1:37 pm: Israel army says strikes Gaza 'terror sites'
The Israeli army carried out strikes on militant targets in the Gaza Strip after rocket attacks by Palestinians at the end of a three-day truce on Friday.
"Following renewed rocket launching at Israel, the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) targeted terror sites across the Gaza Strip," a statement from the military read.
A military spokeswoman told AFP that no Israeli soldiers entered Gaza to carry out the strikes.
There has been "no change on the ground," she said.
1:19 pm: Israel resumes Gaza strikes
A huge explosion and a plume of smoke were seen in Gaza City on Friday, apparently from an Israeli air strike, a Reuters witness said.
An Israeli military spokeswoman had no information about the strike but was checking for details. Islamist militants resumed rocket fire from the coastal enclave into Israel as a 72-hour ceasefire expired at 8 a.m. (0500 GMT) on Friday.
1:00 pm: Thousands of Palestinians flee homes east of Gaza City
Thousands of Palestinians were fleeing their homes east of Gaza City on Friday in fear of Israeli attacks, after a 72-hour truce ended, an AFP correspondent and witnesses said.
Palestinian factions in Gaza refused to extend the ceasefire with Israel, which expired at 0500 GMT, and militants in the enclave renewed rocket fire at the Jewish state which so far has not returned fire at Gaza, the correspondent and Israeli army said.
12:29 pm: Hamas says it will not extend Gaza ceasefire
Two senior Hamas officials said the Palestinian militant movement will not extend a 72-hour ceasefire in Gaza that expires at 0500 GMT on Friday, accusing Israel of rejecting their demands for a truce.
A leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a smaller faction in Gaza that is also present in Cairo-mediated truce talks, confirmed the factions had decided not to extend the ceasefire.
"We have one position, we refuse to extend the ceasefire, it is a final decision. Israel did not propose anything," said one senior Hamas official after a long meeting with Egyptian mediators.
"It did not agree to end the blockade" of Gaza, he added, referring to a key Hamas demand to end the four-week conflict that has killed almost 2,000 Palestinians.
A senior Islamic Jihad leader said the decision was taken with Hamas. Asked if there were any chance it would be reversed before 0500 GMT, he responded: "Not likely."
The delegation is led by a representative of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, whose Palestinian Authority in the West Bank signed a unity deal with Hamas in April to end a seven-year rift.
12:20 pm: Palestinian negotiators still to decide on Gaza truce extension: official
Palestinian negotiators in Cairo are still mulling an extension of a ceasefire with Israel set to expire in hours on Friday, a member of the delegation said, as Israel said rockets from Gaza landed in its territory.
Egyptian mediators asked the Palestinians during a long overnight meeting to extend the 72-hour ceasefire, and they will reach a decision before it expires at 0500 GMT, the delegation member told AFP.
11:52 am: Gaza rockets hit Israel as ceasefire expiry nears: army
Rockets fired from the Gaza Strip crashed into Israel Friday, the army said, less than four hours from the scheduled expiry of a three-day truce.
"Just now, two rockets fired from Gaza hit southern Israel. No injuries reported," the army said in a text message to journalists ahead of the 0500 GMT deadline for the truce to be renewed or end. "Terrorists have violated the cease-fire," it added on its official Twitter site.
9:57 am: Ex-Hamas spokesman found dead in shelled Gaza neighbourhood
A former spokesman for Hamas was found dead Thursday in a neighbourhood of the city that was heavily bombed by Israel, the movement said.
Ayman Taha was killed when Israeli forces "targeted him in the apartment where he was with several others in Gaza City" in the Shejaiya neighbourhood, the group said in a statement.
Their area was the scene of some of the fiercest fighting and bombardment during Israel's Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.
He was severely wounded and died later, the statement said.
The body of Taha, who was living in the Bureij refugee camp in the centre of the enclave, "arrived at Shifa hospital in Gaza City before it was transferred to his family's home in the Bureij camp," a medical source said.
Taha -- the son of one of the group's founders -- was a well known spokesman for the movement before his arrest in February. Hamas's security apparatus detained him as part of an investigation into the possible "abuse of funds" and other allegations.
8:28 am: Israel has 'nothing against' Gazans, Netanyahu tells US TV
Israel has "nothing against the people of Gaza" and wants to help them deal with the "tyranny" of Hamas rule, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Fox News on Thursday.
"I'm not sure the battle is over," he told the cable network's "Hannity" program, a month after the start of the Israel offensive that has claimed nearly 2,000 mostly Palestinian lives.
"I think we've degraded their (Hamas) capabilities significantly," he said, adding there may still remain tunnels dug by Hamas under the Gaza-Israel border that have yet to be found.
"It really depends on whether they want to continue this battle. I think we have to find a peaceful solution, if we can," he added.
He added: "We have nothing against the people of Gaza. In fact, we want to help the people of Gaza who are suffering under this terror tyranny."
On the high number of Palestinian civilian casualties that has provoked international condemnation, Netanyahu described such deaths as inevitable in the heat of battle.
"Those casualties are cruel, but they're unintentional," he said.
"Israel acts that way. It attacks combatants and accidentally kills non-combatants -- but in the case of the terrorists, it's the exact opposite."
Netanyahu also warned Americans that "the greatest danger we face" is terrorist groups or nations, backed by Iran, equipped with nuclear-tipped rockets and missiles.
"Look at the danger we face when they have rockets and missiles," he said.
"Now, imagine what kind of danger we'd have if they could put a nuclear warhead on top of these missiles. That's the danger that is coming from Iran."
7:40 am: Nearly all Gaza rockets self-made: Israeli army
The vast majority of rockets fired by Hamas at Israel over the past month were made in Gaza using civilian materials, a senior Israeli military official said Thursday.
The coastal Palestinian enclave was the setting for the 28-day conflict with Israel, during which Israel set out to seriously impair the Islamist movement's military abilities.
Over the course of the conflict, the de-facto rulers of Gaza fired over 3,300 rockets and mortar shells at Israel, with over 500 rockets intercepted by the Iron Dome defence system, according to the Israeli military.
"The vast majority of those launched were homemade, only a small minority were Fajr 5 made by Iran," the official told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The Gaza manufacturers of these rockets used "water pipes" of different diameters for the bodies of the rockets, filling them with explosives made from materials such as products used in agriculture, the official said.
Hamas had adapted to manufacturing its own weapons after Egypt had cracked down on smuggling through tunnels in the Rafah area into the Palestinian enclave, the official said.
Men from outside Gaza had in the past taught locals how to build the weapons, while some Gazans went to other countries in the region, including Syria and Iran, to acquire knowledge in the field, the Israeli official said, estimating some 150 people in Gaza were directly involved in producing projectiles.
Hamas surprised Israel during the campaign that began July 8 with its armed resistance to the Israeli military, experts have said, and was now seeking to make political gains in its negotiations on a long-term truce taking place in Cairo.
7:00 am: Hamas to resume fighting if talks with Israel fail: spokesman
A spokesman for Hamas's armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, warned Thursday of renewed fighting with Israel if talks in Cairo to extend a 72-truce in Gaza collapsed.
"We appeal to the Palestinian delegation to not accept a ceasefire, unless it satisfies the demands of our people," a spokesman using the nom-de-guerre Abu Obeida said in a televised address, adding that Hamas fighters were "ready to return to battle."
--End of Updates for 7 August--
8:23 pm: UN urges Gaza truce extension so aid can enter
The UN urged Thursday an extension of the truce between Israel and Hamas to let humanitarian aid reach Gaza, hours before a three-day ceasefire was due to end.
"The 72-hour-ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian factions that entered into force on 5 August must continue to hold," UN humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories James Rawley said in a statement.
"We need to rapidly scale-up our response to address the needs of the people in Gaza now and in the longer-term, but to do that, we need a sustained halt to the violence," Rawley said in a statement.
The three-day truce ending four weeks of bloodshed between Israel and Hamas, in which 1,886 Palestinians and 67 people on the Israeli side were killed, was due to end at 0500 GMT Friday.
Fears were rising Thursday evening that fighting could resume after the sides failed to reach an agreement to continue the ceasefire, with the Palestinians accusing Israel of "procrastinating" and Hamas threatening to renew its attacks if no deal was reached.
The UN statement noted that while some of the 520,000 Palestinians displaced during the fighting had returned to their homes, preliminary estimates indicate over 10,000 housing units have been destroyed or severely damaged, leaving 65,000 with no home to go back to."
There was also "widespread damage and destruction to basic infrastructure, including water and sanitation networks, electricity supply lines and the Gaza Power Plant, as well as damage to tens of medical facilities and schools," the statement read.
In the past two days, humanitarian workers had been delivering food to "hundreds of thousands of people" and "vital repairs to water and sanitation infrastructure" were underway, it noted.
Rawley called for a "full lifting of the blockade of the Gaza Strip," without which Palestinians in Gaza will continue to be deprived of any sense of a normal life and the massive reconstruction effort now required will be impossible."
7:48 pm: Palestinians say Israel "stalling" truce talks before deadline
Palestinian officials accused Israel on Thursday of stalling truce talks as a 72-hour ceasefire in Gaza neared its end, saying they have not decided whether to extend it or resume fighting.
Egyptian mediators in Cairo were expected to meet with a Palestinian delegation later on Thursday to relay Israel's terms, with one Palestinian official saying the Israelis were "procrastinating."
Israel indicated on Wednesday it would be willing to extend the ceasefire, which expires at 0500 GMT on Friday.
But a Palestinian official in Cairo said the Israeli proposal amounted to just a ceasefire while refusing key Palestinian demands, which include an end to Gaza's blockade and the release of prisoners.
"The Israeli delegation is proposing extending the ceasefire while refusing a number of the Palestinian demands," said the official.
Another Palestinian official accused the delegation of "wanting to procrastinate and stall the negotiations."
In Gaza, devastated by the four-week conflict that killed 1,886 Palestinians according to medics, a Hamas spokesman said no decision had been reached on renewing the ceasefire.
"As of now there is no official stance on renewing the truce or resuming the fighting," said Fawzi Barhoum.
Another Palestinian official close to the talks in Cairo said the factions think the talks could fail and "they will resume fighting tomorrow."
Egypt, however, is exterting "tremendous pressure to achieve progress in the talks," said a Palestinian official in Cairo.
7:01 pm: Scale of Gaza civilian deaths 'mustn't happen again': Red Cross
The scale of civilian losses during the four-week conflict in the Gaza Strip must not happen again, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters after visiting Gaza, ICRC President Peter Maurer said he was "deeply distressed and shocked to see the impact of violence on the civilian population".
His visit came as the two sides were observing a 72-hour ceasefire due to expire at 0500 GMT on Friday, with Maurer calling for the truce to be extended.
Palestinian officials say 1,886 Palestinians were killed during four weeks of fighting between Israel and Hamas. The United Nations has said more than 1,300 were civilians.
Israel lost 64 soldiers and three civilians, one of them a Thai agricultural worker.
Maurer indicated there may have been some violations of international humanitarian law.
"The law hasn't been accurately and ambitiously implemented in this armed conflict," he said.
"The Geneva Conventions have been designed to protect and assist people, and I cannot be satisfied ... when after four weeks of armed conflict we see the amount of destruction and the amount of victims."
But, in keeping with ICRC's strict principles of neutrality, Maurer declined to blame either side, saying each and every incident would be investigated.
The organisation would compile a confidential report and share recommendations with all sides "to ensure... this amount of victims" does not happen again, he told a news conference in Jerusalem at the end of a three-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories.
ICRC would also investigate the precise circumstances in which medical personnel and Palestinian Red Crescent colleagues were killed, he said.
"I'm moderately optimistic from the signs of goodwill I have encountered in all places to engage with the ICRC to make our assistance and protection more meaningful," Maurer said.
Maurer met political leaders in Gaza, Ramallah, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday called Israel's operation in Gaza "proportionate".
ICRC was determined to narrow the "enormous discrepancy" between the need and the capacity of aid organisations to protect and assist civilians in areas of conflict, Maurer said.
And it would immediately work to reestablish supplies of water, sanitation and electricity, as well as assisting the displaced and increasing medical assistance in Gaza, he said.
Hospitals in Gaza had been inundated with casualties, but they were well equipped to deal with current cases, provided the ceasefire continues, he said.
6:38 pm: British aid agencies launch Gaza appeal
British aid agencies launched an emergency appeal on Thursday for people affected by the conflict in Gaza, with the BBC agreeing to show adverts calling for donations -- five years after it refused to participate in a similar drive.
The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), which brings together 13 leading British charities at times of crisis, said half a million people in Gaza have been forced from their homes, and that up to 1.5 million have limited access to water, sanitation or medical care.
Nearly 1,900 Palestinians and 67 Israelis have been killed in four weeks of hostilities between Israel and Hamas.
DEC chief executive Saleh Saeed said Gaza was "on the edge" and the humanitarian emergency was affecting virtually every resident.
He said: "Many people are living in terribly overcrowded UN shelters, but they still need food and basic household items which we take for granted. Many are in urgent need of medical care, but hospital supplies are almost finished.
"Even before the conflict began, the people of Gaza were close to breaking point. Now we are seeing a humanitarian emergency affecting virtually every man, woman and child in Gaza."
Eleven of the 13 DEC agencies are working in Gaza, or planning to work there, with many taking advantage of a three-day ceasefire.
In 2009, the BBC received thousands of complaints after it joined Sky News television in deciding not to air a DEC fundraising appeal for Gaza which was shown by other channels.
The publicly-funded BBC said then it wanted to avoid compromising public confidence in its impartiality.
The BBC said it had taken "three issues" into consideration after being asked to broadcast the current appeal -- the scale of the crisis, the ability of the agencies to provide assistance and the likelihood that a public appeal would be successful.
It added in a statement: "The humanitarian need in Gaza has been widely acknowledged, including by the Israeli government, and the DEC has given assurances that aid can reach those who need it."
5:39 pm: 'Resistance!' cry crowds at Hamas Gaza victory rally
Hundreds of Palestinians poured onto the streets of Gaza City on Thursday to attend a Hamas victory rally, chanting support for resistance against Israel, an AFP reporter said.
Loudspeakers mounted by the roadside blared out Hamas victory songs as the crowd -- most of them men but with some children dressed in combat fatigues and carrying toy guns -- gathered in the square outside the parliament building.
A huge Palestinian flag hung behind a podium where speakers whipped up the crowd with chants of victory on the eve of the scheduled expiry of a 72-hour truce with Israel.
"We have won the military battle and with the permission of God we'll win the political battle," Hamas MP Mushir al-Masri told the crowd.
"Resistance, resistance, resistance!" chanted the demonstrators.
Four weeks of fighting between the armed Islamist faction and Israel killed 67 people on the Israeli side, including 64 soldiers, and more than 1,880 Palestinians, of whom the UN says more than 1,300 were civilians.
One of the few women at the rally told AFP her home had been destroyed in the Israeli bombardment.
"I have come here today to tell the whole world we are with the resistance. We have only two options: dignity or death, so we chose dignity," she said, refusing to give her name and wearing a headscarf and a long dress.
Diplomatic efforts entered a final countdown in Cairo on Thursday as Egyptian mediators rushed to broker an extension to the ceasefire which is due to expire at 0500 GMT on Friday, shuttling between Israeli and Palestinian teams.
An Israeli official has said Israel would be prepared to prolong the ceasefire "unconditionally", but Hamas has denied that any agreement to extend the calm exists.
4:22 pm: Israeli minister urges EU 'inspectors' for Gaza borders
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has called for EU "inspectors" to monitor Gaza's borders amid efforts to extend a ceasefire, in a German newspaper interview published Thursday.
"Not police or soldiers. But Germany and the EU must dispatch inspectors to Gaza to monitor the Palestinians' trade with the neighbouring countries," Lieberman told the mass-circulation Bild daily in comments published in German.
"The EU already did that once at a crossing in Rafah in the south of Gaza," he said.
After a month of deadly conflict, Israel and Hamas appear at odds over extending a 72-hour ceasefire in Gaza that expires at 0500 GMT on Friday.
The EU implemented its so-called EUBAM operation in 2005 at the Rafah crossing point between Gaza and Egypt.
In cooperation with Israeli and Palestinian officials, the mission of 70 European police officers monitored movements of people, goods and vehicles at the crossing, Gaza's only window to the outside world that bypasses Israel.
But it was suspended in June 2007 after Hamas seized power in the Gaza Strip.
France last month proposed reviving the operation and Germany has backed the call.
Lieberman also told Bild that Israel did not want to again "administer" Gaza after it withdrew its troops and settlers from the coastal enclave in September 2005.
But he said a solution needed to be found for the residents of Gaza and urged Germany to take a leading role.
12:00 pm: Obama: Gazans need 'sense of hope' for future
US President Barack Obama said Wednesday that the people of Gaza need greater hope for the future, as he urged the extension of an Israel-Hamas ceasefire.
"The US goal right now would be to make sure that the ceasefire holds, that Gaza can begin the process of rebuilding," Obama told a news conference.
Similarly, he said, Israelis need to "feel confident that they're not going to have a repeat of the kind of rocket launchers that we've seen over the last several weeks."
Obama said that the United States was supporting ceasefire talks but added: "Long-term, there has to be a recognition that Gaza cannot sustain itself permanently closed off from the world."
Ordinary Palestinians living in the impoverished, blockaded Hamas-ruled territory need to "have some prospects for an opening of Gaza so that they do not feel walled off," Obama said.
Obama reiterated his concern over civilians killed in the conflict, which left 1,886 Palestinians and 67 on the Israeli side dead. His stance has drawn unusually sharp rebukes from hardliners in Israel.
Obama insisted he has "consistently supported Israel's right to defend itself" and repeatedly castigated Hamas, saying that the militant group has acted "extraordinarily irresponsibly" by launching rockets into Israel.
"I have no sympathy for Hamas. I have great sympathy for ordinary people who are struggling within Gaza," Obama said.
Obama said that peace efforts needed to involve the Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, amid US fears that the conflict has empowered the more militant Hamas.
Obama said that the Abbas-led Palestinian Authority, based in the West Bank, has been "responsible" by recognizing Israel and seeking a two-state solution.
"I think Abu Mazen is sincere in his desire for peace, but they (the Palestinian Authority) have also been weakened, I think, during this process," Obama said, referring to Abbas by his nom de guerre.
"The populations in the West Bank may have also lost confidence or lost a sense of hope in terms of how to move forward," he said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that the Palestinian Authority should play an "important" role in the Gaza Strip.
Netanyahu had earlier rejected further negotiations with Abbas after he formed a coalition with Hamas amid the breakdown of the US-led peace process.
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