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Gaza truce pushes into 2nd day ahead of Cairo talks
Published Wednesday 06/08/2014 (updated) 07/08/2014 13:01
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Palestinian residents of the northern Umm al-Nasser district of the
Gaza Strip ride back to their houses at the beginning of a 72-hour
truce on Aug. 5, 2014 (AFP Marco Longari)
GAZA CITY (AFP) -- A fragile ceasefire in Gaza pushed into a second day Wednesday as Israeli and Palestinian delegations prepared for crunch talks in Cairo to try to extend the 72-hour truce.

The ceasefire, which came into effect Tuesday and carried past midnight into Wednesday, has brought relief to millions on both sides after one month of fighting killed 1,875 Palestinians and 67 people in Israel.

Israeli and Palestinian delegations are now set for what are expected to be tough talks aimed at securing a permanent ceasefire after the three-day window closes.

Officials on both sides confirmed sending small teams to the Egyptian capital, but they bring conflicting demands and face an uphill diplomatic battle ahead.

The Palestinians insist Israel end its eight-year blockade of Gaza and open border crossings, while Israel wants Gaza fully demilitarized.

But after the longest period of quiet since fighting began, Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki said he expected "the ceasefire to expand into another 72 hours and beyond."

The United States is set to participate in the Cairo talks.

"We are determining at what level and in what capacity and when," US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters in Washington.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, in a BBC interview, called for a sustained ceasefire but stressed that the crucial wider issues will need to be addressed.

"How are we going to make peace? How are we going to eliminate these rockets? How are we going to demilitarize and move towards a different future?"

In Gaza City, people came out in numbers on Tuesday afternoon, children played on the street and the beach, and some shops reopened for the first time in days.

Others ventured home for the first time only to witness scenes of devastation.

"What am I going to tell my wife and children? I don't want them to see this! They will go crazy," said Khayri Hasan al-Masri, a father of three who returned to his heavily damaged home in Beit Hanun in the north after fleeing when Israel's ground offensive began on July 17.

At a bullet-riddled girls' school, an Israeli flag and an anti-Hamas slogan had been etched on the wall of a classroom, and discarded ration packs and tuna cans labelled in Hebrew littered the floor.

Up to $6 billion worth of damage in Gaza

The ceasefire, announced by Egypt late on Monday, is the longest lull since fighting began.

The Palestinian health ministry said 1,875 Palestinians had been killed during the conflict, including 430 children, and said 9,567 people had been wounded, including 2,878 children.

In the West Bank city of Ramallah, deputy economy minister Taysir Amro said the 29-day war had caused total damage of up to $6 billion dollars.

Some of the worst devastation is near the southern Gaza city of Rafah, which was flattened in a massive Israeli assault that began Friday.

The United States and the United Nations have welcomed the truce, saying the onus was on Hamas to uphold its end of the deal.

Israel has been subject to increasingly harsh criticism over the high number of civilian casualties during its military operation launched on July 7.

A British parliamentary committee said Wednesday that excessive Israeli restrictions on Palestinian territories cannot be justified on the grounds they protect Israel.

The Israeli army says it destroyed 32 cross-border tunnels, struck nearly 4,800 targets and killed 900 Palestinian "terrorists."

But human rights groups and the UN say the vast majority -- between 70 and 80 percent -- of those killed in Gaza were civilians.

"We expect that they still have about 3,000 rockets left. This is a challenge we have to address," Lerner said.
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1 ) Bemused / New Zealand
06/08/2014 10:35
And what about the Israeli arsenal, funded by the US? It is the Israelis who should be required to demilitarize - they have killed 30 times more Palestinians than Palestinains have killed Israelis, 80% of them civilians -while the Palestinian resistance strike rate is 97% military targets. The facts are clear about who the war criminals are, and who should have their weapons taken off them...

2 ) time for VICTORY PARADE / with HANIYYEH
06/08/2014 10:36
and MASHAAL around Gaza---showing all the achievements of BRAVE HAMAS WARRIORS (rumours abound that most of them were stuffed with AMPHETAMINES!)

3 ) Nasr / Gaza, Palestine
06/08/2014 14:39
V is for VICTORY!!!!!!!!!!!!

4 ) David / USA
06/08/2014 18:01
Gaza needs to be demilitarized. Why? No need for Gaza to BE militarized? Israel has no desire to attack Gaza. Egypt has no desire to attack Gaza. So why does Gaza need an army? The militarization of Gaza and Hamas's use of that equipment and personnel for attacks against Israel ARE SOLELY responsible for the condition of Gaza today. If Hamas declares it is peaceful and rips up its charter, Israel will be the first country to offer aid for reconstruction. Hamas must choose: peace or jihad.

5 ) Hugo / USA
06/08/2014 21:35
@Bemused - Given Hama's charter, asking Israel to demilitarize is akin to asking them to accede to a form of suicide. Hamas has shown that they have no moral compunction against targeting civilian areas. They just haven't been successful.

6 ) Michael Collins (1) / Eire
06/08/2014 22:58
#4 David/USA - What a ridiculous statement, Israel has just killed nearly 2000 people, most of them cvillians & maimed nearly 10,000 more, so how can you say "Israel has no desire to attack Gaza". You live in the USA, don't you have the right to defend yourself (& I know most people in US have guns). Blaming Hamas is easy, but try turning the mirror around. Try going back to Zionist terror tactics pre 1948, Irgun, Stern, King David Hotel, Palestinian Nakba, now that was terrorism. (cont)

7 ) Michael Collins (2) / Eire
06/08/2014 22:59
Not content, Israel then occupied Al Quds, Gaza & built settlements on stolen land. Palestine, including Gaza, is occupied (even though Israel pulled out of Gaza). Hamas has every right under international law to resist occupation & defend its people. Ron Prosser going to the UN & playing a siren on an iphone doesn’t illicit my sympathy, sorry. We could ask why Israel needs to be the 4th most powerful military force in the world, but we know why. Gaza & Palestine have the legal right (cont)

8 ) Michael Collins (3) / Eire
06/08/2014 23:00
to their own protective force; when under occupation as ‘resistance’, when a free state as a ‘state military force’. Palestinians may not need to use it, but it is their right to have it. As to “choose jihad or peace”, for sure the Palestinians, Gaza included would like peace, they don’t need to wage jihad when there is no need, however it does not have to be conditional on demilitarisation. To have weapons doesn’t mean they have to be used, but people like to have them as a means of security.

9 ) Michael Collins (4) / Eire
06/08/2014 23:03
As to reconstruction, Israel is the occupying power, so in reality (& legally), it has no choice but to help reconstruct Gaza without conditions. That said, there are lots of countries that will help Gaza reconstruct anyway. I would say Israel can negotiate for a permanent ceasefire, by accepting the Palestinians current requests (conditions), and by concurrently working towards a lasting solution to achieving total peace & the two state solution (Arab Peace Initiative is still open, I believe).
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