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Five-day ceasefire starts in Gaza as deep divisions remain at the negotiations


August 14, 2014
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Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Gaza Blockade] [Gaza]

A new ceasefire took hold in Gaza after both Palestinians and Israelis agreed to extend the truce for five more days despite rocket fire from the Gaza Strip and Israeli air strikes overnight and into the early morning.

Right before the previous three-day ceasefire was about to expire on Wednesday midnight, two rockets landed in open areas in southern Israel. Israel responded with four air strikes in the Gaza Strip, reportedly targeting rocket-launching sites, weapons caches and “centers of terrorist activity.”

The military finished shelling at around 3 AM, after which the situation to an uneasy calm. The Israeli forces confirmed that rocket alerts on Thursday morning were false alarms.

Hamas denied it was responsible for the rocket fire.

Head of the Palestinian delegation at the ongoing negotiations in Cairo, Azzam al-Ahmed, said Wednesday that more time was needed to achieve a durable ceasefire. Israel accepted the proposal.

Al-Ahmed told Ma’an News that the two sides had agreed on several points of the negotiations. However, the Egyptian-proposed solution would leave the main disagreements—the lifting of the 8-year-long Israeli and Egyptian blockade on Gaza and the disarmament of Hamas—to later talks.

The Egyptian mediators suggested as well that the Palestinian demands for a seaport and an airport in Gaza would be postponed until a month after a permanent ceasefire takes place.

Palestinian negotiators were set to leave Cairo Wednesday afternoon to finalize their stance before the next talks scheduled for Monday. The Fatah delegates will meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, the Islamic Jihad representatives will head to Beirut, and Hamas members will discuss with Khaled Meshal in Doha.

Hamas members arrested in the West Bank, six dead in Gaza on Wednesday

The Israeli army arrested 20 Palestinians, including two suspected Hamas members, in the West Bank and Jordan Valley overnight Wednesday. Undercover Israeli forces took Hamas leader Ahmad Khader Abed Abu Maria from his home at 10.00 AM on Thursday in Beit Ummar.

On Wednesday, six people were killed in Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza in a blast of an unexploded Israeli missile that a Palestinian bomb squad was attempting to disarm.

One of the deceased was an Italian cameraman working for AP. A Palestinian translator, also a part-time administrative assistant from the international news agency, was killed in the same explosion.

The United States has decided to stop transferring Hellfire missiles to the Israeli forces. The White House and the State Department are now planning to consider every Israeli request for armament individually after discovering that the Israeli forces had been receiving ammunition from the Pentagon through a direct military-to-military channel.

Britain, on the other hand, will keep arming Israel. Business Secretary of the UK government, Vince Cable, announced on Tuesday that 12 of the 130 licenses for selling British arms to Israel will be suspended because of the current hostilities. If the ceasefire holds, all the ordered weapons will be delivered to Israel.

More than 1,950 Palestinians and 67 Israelis have died during hostilities thus far.

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