Israel to mull Egypt ceasefire plan for Gaza

Security cabinet to discuss Cairo initiative to end Gaza violence that has left at least 187 Palestinians dead.

    Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, is to convene his security cabinet to discuss an Egyptian-proposed ceasefire in the Gaza conflict, an Israeli official has said. 

    The official told the Reuters news agency that the meeting will take place later on Tuesday.

    The proposed truce would start on Tuesday morning, and be followed by talks on a long-term ceasefire.

    Khaled al-Batch, a senior leader of the Islamic Jihad armed group, said that the group welcomed "Egypt's role and efforts to end the Israeli aggression and defend the Palestinian people" but will not accept the ceasefire without conditions.

    "It is not acceptable to start observing a ceasefire for short term then negotiate the terms. We have experienced this in the past and it has failed," he said.

    "What is needed now is to agree on the demands of the Palestinian people, chiefly ending the siege and opening the border corsing, then a zero hour can be agreed upon. Otherwise, history will repeat itself, period."

    In a televised statement on Al-Aqsa TV, Ismail Haniyeh, the deputy head of the political bureau of Hamas, confirmed the group had been contacted about a ceasefire, saying: "Yes there are contacts and there are countries intervening."

    Haniyeh said: "Our people were avoiding the war but the Zionist enemy began it, he announced it, he prepared for it, he started to kill the women, children and families, destroy homes. Entire families were eliminated."

    "Every drop of blood is dear to us. My heart and all the people are standing beside these families, but this bloodshed pushes us towards being more committed to our rights and to stopping this aggression, to end this situation in Gaza and West Bank."

    Egypt's state news agency said on Monday that US Secretary of State John Kerry is to fly to Cairo to discuss the situation in Gaza.

    The European Union said it was in touch with "all parties in the region" to press for an immediate halt to the hostilities.

    Britain and Germany have called for a truce with William Hague, the UK foreign secretary, calling for an immediate de-escalation.

    US President Barack Obama said he was "encouraged" by Egypt's proposal for a ceasefire.

    Israeli reservists report 

    Earlier on Monday, the Israeli army said its aircraft and naval gunboats attacked dozens of targets in the Gaza Strip, where hospitals are overwhelmed and struggling with few resources to treat the steady stream of casualties.

    Meanwhile, Palestinian fighters fired more than 20 rockets into Israel on Monday, slightly wounding a boy in the town of Ashdod.

    Later in the day the army said that a rocket fire wounded two young girls in Beersheba.

    Israel launched its military campaign against Gaza, in which more than 1,300 targets have been hit in airstrikes, including family homes and a rehabilitation centre for the disabled, on July 7.

    Al Jazeera's Bernard Smith, reporting from the border with Gaza in southern Israel, said: "[At least] 36,000 Israeli reservists have been told to report to duty and they will be reporting to Israel-Gaza border.

    "Nobody's telling us that there is going to be a ground offensive, but Israel's army is certainly making all the preparations for one should the order come from the army's political masters."

    At least 1,350 people have been wounded in the offensive and more than 17,000 people are sheltering in UN compounds in the densely-populated Palestinian enclave.

    Al-Mezan, a Gaza-based Palestinian human rights group, said that at least 869 homes have been destroyed or damaged in Israeli bombardment.

    At least 187 Palestinians have been killed - the United Nations has said that at least 80 percent of the casualties have been civilians. 

    At least 10 Israelis have been injured by rockets fired from Gaza. No fatalaties have been recorded.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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