Israel strikes Gaza again after truce talks end - GulfToday

Israel strikes Gaza again after truce talks end

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Smoke rises above buildings at sunrise in the aftermath of Israeli bombardment in Rafah on Friday. AFP

Israel launched fresh strikes in the Gaza Strip on Friday after negotiators pursuing a long-stalled truce agreement left talks in Cairo without having secured a deal.

AFP journalists in the Gaza Strip witnessed artillery strikes on Rafah on the territory's southern border with Egypt, while witnesses reported air strikes and fighting in Gaza City further north.

Israeli and Hamas negotiating teams left Cairo after what the Egyptian hosts described as a "two-day round" of indirect negotiations on the terms of a Gaza truce, according to Al-Qahera News.

Hamas said its delegation had left for Qatar, home to the Palestinian militant group's political leadership.

"The negotiating delegation left Cairo heading to Doha. In practice, the occupation (Israel) rejected the proposal submitted by the mediators and raised objections to it on several central issues," Hamas said in a message to other Palestinian factions, adding it stood by the proposal.

"Accordingly, the ball is now completely in the hands of the occupation."

Hamas had said on Monday that it had accepted a ceasefire proposal put forward by mediators.

The deal, the group said, involved a withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, the return of Palestinians displaced by the war, and the exchange of hostages held by the group for Palestinian prisoners detained in Israel, with the aim of a "permanent ceasefire".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office at the time called the proposal "far from Israel's essential demands", but said the government would still send negotiators to Cairo.

Israel has long resisted the idea of a permanent ceasefire, insisting it must finish the job of dismantling Hamas.


Mediator Egypt said the two sides must show "flexibility" in order to strike a deal for a ceasefire and hostage-prisoner exchange in the seven-month war, according to a foreign ministry statement.

CIA director William Burns, who is also part of the truce efforts, is due to return to the United States from the Middle East on Friday, the White House said.

"That doesn't mean there aren't still ongoing discussions," White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said.

"We still believe that there's a path forward, but it's going to take some leadership on both sides."

But at a makeshift refugee camp in Rafah, displaced Gazan Inas Mazen al-Shami said she was fed up with the stalling.

"We have no money and we don't have the means to move from one place to another again and again. We have no means at all," she said.


Agence France-Presse

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