Israel, Palestinians launch new truce
Updated: 2014-08-11 13:59
|The mother of Palestinian boy, whom medics said was wounded by Israeli shelling, holds his hand as he lies on a bed at a hospital in Gaza City August 10, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]|
GAZA/JERUSALEM - Israel and the Palestinians held their fire early on Monday at the start of a new 72-hour ceasefire proposed by Egypt that took effect at 2100 GMT.
There were no immediate reports of breaches of the ceasefire although Hamas claimed it fired rockets as far as the Tel Aviv area for the first time since a previous truce expired on Friday, just minutes before the new truce took hold.
The Israeli military had no comment but Israeli media said a rocket exploded in an open area in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area and at least two other rockets were intercepted in a town just south of that region.
A senior Israeli government official said on Sunday Israeli negotiators would return to Cairo to resume indirect talks with the Palestinians, if the truce held, also confirming the Jewish state had accepted Egypt's proposal for the new truce.
The Israeli team had flown home on Friday when the sides failed to reach a deal to prolong a previous three-day truce, and hostilities in the month-old conflict resumed.
A Hamas official said Palestinian factions had accepted Egypt's call and that the Cairo talks would continue. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that these new negotiations would be "the last chance" for a deal.
Egypt's Foreign Ministry urged "both sides to exploit this truce to resume indirect negotiations immediately and work towards a comprehensive and lasting ceasefire agreement".
The new truce won the praise of United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon who, in a statement, urged both sides to "avoid any steps which would lead to a return to violence."
Ban expressed a "strong hope" the truce might lead to a "durable ceasefire for the benefit of all civilian populations and as a starting point to address the underlying grievances on both sides."
Hamas has demanded an end to Israeli and Egyptian blockades of the coastal territory and the opening of a Gaza seaport - a project Israel says should be dealt with only in any future talks on a permanent peace deal with the Palestinians.
Israeli air strikes and shelling on Sunday killed nine Palestinians in Gaza, including a boy aged 14 and a woman, medics said, in a third day of renewed fighting since the last truce ended.
One air strike destroyed the home of Gaza City's mayor, Nezar Hijazi, across the street from the Reuters bureau where reporters and cameramen hit the floor as the explosion occurred. There were no casualties in the attack because Israel telephoned warnings to residents in the house and neighbouring buildings.
The Israeli military said it targeted 11 "terror squads" in Gaza, among them gunmen involved in or preparing to fire rockets.