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Middle East

Egypt calls for immediate Gaza ceasefire

Egypt urges Israel and Palestinians to accept an indefinite ceasefire for Gaza and return to Cairo to resume talks.

Last updated: 23 Aug 2014 19:33
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Since the latest round of talks collapsed, 84 Palestinians and one Israeli have died as a result of the violence [AFP]

Egypt has called on Israel and the Palestinians to accept an indefinite ceasefire and resume indirect talks in Cairo to end the Gaza crisis, Egypt's foreign ministry said in a statement.

The ministry on Saturday called for "concerned parties to accept a ceasefire of unlimited duration and to resume indirect negotiations in Cairo".

Earlier, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi had met his Palestinian counterpart, Mahmoud Abbas, to discuss the conflict that has killed more than 2,000 people.

A previous round of truce talks collapsed on Tuesday, shattering nine days of calm, as the deadly six-week conflict between Israel and Hamas resumed.

Since then, 84 Palestinians and one Israeli have died as a result of the violence.

"As soon as a ceasefire goes into effect, the two sides can sit down and discuss their demands," Abbas said, adding that the Palestinian delegation would include Hamas as in past rounds.

Abbas's meeting with Sisi came after he held two rounds of talks in Qatar on Thursday and Friday with exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, whose movement is the de facto ruler of Gaza.

Intensified raids

Israeli fired two missiles at a 13-storey residential tower block in the centre of Gaza City on Saturday, wounding 22 people, including 11 children, Gaza health officials said.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said the building, which collapsed completely, had been used as a command centre by Hamas fighters. Local residents said the building housed 44 families.

Israel said it had carried out 55 air strikes over the Gaza Strip on Saturday and that around 64 rockets and mortar rounds hit Israel, with another 14 intercepted.

Witnesses and Palestinian officials said two mosques were destroyed in the Khan Younis area of southern Gaza, while a third, in the Shati refugee camp, which had already been damaged, was bombed again.

The deadliest air strike levelled a home in al-Zawayda in central Gaza, killing a couple, their sons aged three and four, and an aunt, medics said.

Neighbours said the family house had been bombed earlier in the conflict and that the family had returned to camp out in the ruins, when it was hit overnight by an F16.

The intensified air strikes came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed harsh retribution for the killing of a four-year-old boy at his home in kibbutz Nahal Oz on Friday.

Inside Story - Punishing the Palestinians?

Israel said an armed group fired the deadly mortar round from next to a school in the Zeitun neighbourhood of Gaza City, which it called a "shelter maintained by Hamas authority", correcting an earlier statement in which it had stated it was an UN-operated facility.

At least 480 Palestinian children and one Israeli child have been killed since the conflict began, UNICEF said.

Palestinian health officials say 2,103 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in the deadliest fighting since the 2005 end of the second intifada. Three Israeli civilians, a Thai national and 64 soldiers have also been killed.

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Source:
Agencies
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