Palestinian groups agree on main point for Gaza truce

A delegation from the Palestinian resistance faction Hamas arrived Sunday in Cairo for talks aiming to hammer out a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, which has been reeling under a devastating Israeli offensive over the past month.

Palestinian groups agree on main point for Gaza truce

World Bulletin/News Desk

A delegation from Palestinian groups, including resistance groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, met in Cairo on Sunday for indirect ceasefire talks with Israel to be conducted through Egyptian officials, Egyptian and Palestinian sources said.

Truce talks would include Hamas' demand that Egypt ease movement across its border with blockaded Gaza. Israel said on Saturday it would not send envoys as scheduled.

The talks on Sunday started with Palestinian factions finding common ground before starting negotiations with Egypt, the sources said.

Qais Abu Laila, a senior leader from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine who was in Cairo, said the different Palestinian factions had agreed on a unified list of conditions.

"Ceasefire, the pullout of Israeli forces, ending the blockade, releasing the prisoners ... and starting the reconstruction process," he told Reuters by phone.

"There are details attached to each of these points and there will be a meeting soon with the Egyptian side to discuss the (Palestinian) paper," he said.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns and former British prime minister Tony Blair are expected to fly to Cairo for the negotiations, airport sources said.

On July 14, Egypt proposed an initiative with an eye on suspending hostilities between Israel and resistance factions in the Gaza Strip.

However, the initiative, initially welcomed by Israel, was rejected by Palestinian factions Hamas and Islamic Jihad, who said that the plan's terms do not meet the conditions of the Palestinian resistance.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who was in Cairo on Sunday, said that a peace proposal should include an immediate ceasefire, ending the blockade and the release of prisoners.

UN 'gravely concerned' over Gaza's humanitarian crisis

The United Nations on Sunday warned of a "rapidly unfolding health disaster of widespread proportions" in the Gaza Strip, saying that the latter's medical facilities are on the verge of collapse amid Israel's non-stop attacks against the strip.

“We are now looking at a health and humanitarian disaster,” warned UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the occupied Palestinian territory James Rawley in a joint statement with Robert Turner, director of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) Operations in the Gaza Strip, and Ambrogio Manenti, acting Head of Office of World Health Organization operations in the Palestinian territories.

“The fighting must stop immediately," Rawley appealed.

According to the statement, at least half of all public health primary care clinics are closed.

Moreover, one third of Gaza's hospitals, 14 primary healthcare clinics and 29 Palestinian Red Crescent and Ministry of Health ambulances have been damaged during the current Israeli offensive, launched on July 7.

Moreover, the officials stated that at least five medical staff have been killed in the line of duty and tens have been injured, noting that 40 percent of medical staff are unable to get to their clinics and hospitals due to the "widespread violence."

They went on to say that "critical supplies of medicines and disposables are almost depleted" and that damage and destruction of power supplies, caused by Israeli attacks on Gaza's only power plant, has left hospitals dependent on unreliable back-up generators.

At least 1766 Palestinians have been killed in the devastating Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip, including at least 398 children and 207 women, according to Palestinian health officials.

The U.N. statement said over 8000 Palestinians have been injured – many seriously - since the beginning of the Israeli operation.

However, Palestinian health officials say that over 9320 have been injured, nearly half of which are children.

Next 48 hours 'decisive': Israeli army

The Israeli army asserted on Sunday that its ground operation in the Gaza Strip is still ongoing; suggesting that the next 48 hours would be "decisive."

"The army has not received any instructions for a ceasefire and the operation is continuing whether through airstrikes, artillery or ground troops," Israeli army spokesman Avichay Adraee told Anadolu Agency.

He dismissed reports that the ground operation has come to an end, saying "redeployment" of some of the army units inside the Gaza Strip was linked to "strategic considerations."

Asked when Israel is expected to declare the end of the military operation, Adraee said the next 48 hours would be "decisive."

He declined to give further details.

Adraee said that the major goal of the Israeli operation is to destroy tunnels dug by Hamas into Israel.

"We have so far bombed many of the tunnels," he told AA. "But we cannot determine their number just yet."

"We are not 100% finished with this task, so we need more days to finish the job," said the Israeli army spokesman.

The second objective of the operation, he added, was to end rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel.

"We have already managed to significantly undermine the firing capabilities of the Palestinian groups as can be seen through the fewer rockets fired into Israel," Adraee said.

He admitted, nonetheless, that there are still rockets being fired at Tel Aviv.

"But the Iron Dome manages to intercept them," said the Israeli army spokesman.

He noted that the Israeli anti-missile defense system was able to intercept 22 percent of the fired rockets.

Challenges

Adraee said that Hamas had prepared for such confrontation with Israel in terms of rockets, tunnels, booby-trapped houses, road-side bombs and direct combat.

"We have sustained major losses, but that's the army's duty," he said in reference to the army's 64 fatalities.

"But in return, Israel has eliminated many militants and destroyed much of Hamas' military capabilities," added Adraee.

Regarding soldier Oron Shaul who has been declared "killed in action" by Israel despite an earlier announcement by Hamas of capturing, Adraee said the army had concluded that Shaul had been killed based on the circumstances of the clashes during which he had gone missing.

"That's why we had announced his death, though we don't know the fate of his body," he added.

Turning to Second Lieutenant Hadar Goldin who was also declared dead hours after the army had accused Hamas of kidnapping him, Adraee declined to give details.

"The army announced that his funeral will take place Sunday which, according to Jewish religious teachings, means something will be buried," he said.

Israel has been pounding the Gaza Strip since the late night of July 7 with the ostensible aim of halting rocket fire from the blockaded coastal enclave.

The vast majority of the dead and injured victims are civilians: children, women and elderly people, according to the U.N. as well as Palestinian health officials. 

Gaza-based resistance factions, meanwhile, have continued to fire rocket at Israeli cities in response to relentless Israeli bombardments.

Israel's "Operation Protective Edge" is the deadliest in three Israeli military offensives on the embattled Gaza Strip - home to some 1.8 million Palestinians – within the past six years.

The Palestinian death toll from the current offensive alone has surpassed the combined total fatalities from two past major operations - including 2008/9's operation "Cast Lead" which killed at least 1500 Palestinians in three weeks.

According to Israeli figures, at least 64 soldiers have been killed in battles with Palestinian fighters in Gaza, making up the highest Israeli military fatality toll in the three assaults. Three Israelis have also been killed by rocket fire from Gaza.

 

Güncelleme Tarihi: 03 Ağustos 2014, 23:51

Muhammed Öylek

YORUM EKLE