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Gaza toll tops 880 as West Bank simmers

AFP , Friday 25 Jul 2014
Ramallah
A Palestinian protester uses a slingshot to hurl stones toward Israeli troops during clashes, at a protest against Israeli offensive in Gaza, at Qalandia checkpoint near the West Bank city of Ramallah July 24, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)
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Israeli fire Friday pushed the Palestinian death toll in Gaza to above 880, as Washington pressed Israel and Hamas to agree a week-long humanitarian ceasefire and thrash out a durable truce.

In the West Bank, Palestinian factions declared a "Day of Rage" after a night of clashes over Israel's Gaza offensive, with one Palestinian killed.

Among the dead in an air strike on Friday were two women, one of them pregnant, adding to a spiralling toll of Palestinian civilian casualties from Israel's military operation, now in its 18th day, aimed at halting militant rocket fire.

Hamas said on Friday it had fired three rockets at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport.

An army spokeswoman told AFP: "We can confirm two rockets were shot down over metropolitan Tel Aviv."

On Thursday, Israeli shelling of a UN facility sheltering displaced Gazans killed at least 15 civilians, drawing widespread international condemnation.

UN chief Ban Ki-Moon said he was "appalled" at the incident which "underscores the imperative for the killing to stop -- and to stop now".

With intense international pressure on both sides to cease fire, Israel's security cabinet was to meet Friday to discuss a truce proposal passed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by US Secretary of State John Kerry, media reported.

It proposes an initial week-long humanitarian ceasefire that would allow Hamas, the de facto power in Gaza, to save face after having rejected an Egyptian initiative last week that proposed a lasting truce first and negotiations later.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu flew to Qatar on Friday to help efforts for a ceasefire after Kerry on Thursday reached out to Hamas allies Ankara and Doha to push for a ceasefire.

According to Western and Palestinian officials, once a humanitarian lull takes hold, delegations from Israel and Hamas would arrive in Cairo -- which has mediated past conflicts between the two -- for indirect talks that could lead to a lasting truce.

However, Israel's security cabinet looked unlikely to want a ceasefire, commentators said.

"Some fear that the security cabinet will go into a state of euphoria and attempt to accomplish a new goal, which was not presented before, such as toppling Hamas," Yediot Aharonot wrote in an editorial.

Kerry on Thursday reached out to Turkey and Qatar and was joined in Cairo by Ban and British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond to push forward the plan, diplomats said.

Hamas's exiled Doha-based leader Khaled Meshaal, however, told the BBC that any truce must include a guaranteed end to Israel's eight-year blockade of Gaza.

"We want a ceasefire as soon as possible, that's parallel with the lifting of the siege of Gaza," he said.

The latest truce efforts came on the last Friday of Ramadan, as Israeli braced for West Bank and east Jerusalem unrest after Palestinian factions declared a "Day of Rage" and Israeli police restricted entry to the Al Aqsa compound to men aged 50 and above.

One Palestinian was killed and 150 injured in Thursday night clashes with Israeli forces in the West Bank, Palestinian medics said, with Israeli police arresting 29 in east Jerusalem.

In Gaza, an air strike on Khan Yunis killed Islamic Jihad propagandist Salah Hasanein and two of his sons, security sources said.

An attack on a house in central Gaza killed two women, one of whom was pregnant, emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said.

Friday's Gaza violence brought the death toll to 880 Palestinians, he said.

Thursday's strike hit a UN school sheltering some of the 100,000 Palestinians driven from their homes after weeks of deadly fighting between Israeli troops and Hamas.

The shell hit a courtyard where people were camped, killing least 15 people and wounding more than 200.

The UN said it had been trying to coordinate with the army to evacuate civilians before the strike, without success.

The army has said militants were using the area around the school as a launching site, forcing it to target near the school.

The UN disputes military claims of allowing an evacuation window before the strike, and survivors say they had been trying to leave the school under fire before the shell hit.

Rights groups say around 80 percent of the casualties so far have been civilians, a quarter of them children, triggering growing international alarm.

UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos warned it was "almost impossible" for Palestinians to shelter from Israeli air strikes in the densely populated territory.

The army says militants fired two rockets at southern Israel early Friday, bringing the number of rockets and mortar rounds from Gaza that hit Israel since July 8 to 1,850, with another 470 intercepted by the Iron Dome defence system.

Thirty-two Israeli soldiers have been killed, and Hamas rocket attacks have killed two Israeli civilians and a Thai worker.

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Feshal Talib
26-07-2014 07:45am
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what is sisi and shukry sameh to help palestine
I m totally disapointed by egypt and saudi inaction.the zionist keep on bombing the innocence and in action of 2 super power of the arab state.
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037
25-07-2014 08:11pm
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I have stoped liking Egypt. Started loving it.
Yes, I know the life is not perfect in Egypt. Although, it will significantly improve in the near future. Why so? Because, yours President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is lining up with the most powerful forces in the Universe. "He who blesses Israel will be blessed and he who curses Israel will be cursed." Even the people in Palestine starting to realize that supporting wrong side leads to the utmost destruction. “The reason for what’s happening to our Palestinian brothers is because of Hamas,” says an Egyptian taxi driver, representing growing anti-Hamas sentiment in that country, which also borders Gaza. “Hamas is an extremist group.”
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037
25-07-2014 08:02pm
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0+
I have stoped liking Egypt. Started loving it.
Yes, I know the life is not perfect in Egypt. Although, it will significantly improve in the near future. Why so? Because, you President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is lining up force in the Universe. "He who blesses Israel will be blessed and he who curses Israel will be cursed." Even the people in Palestine starting to realize that supporting wrong side leads to the utmost destruction. “The reason for what’s happening to our Palestinian brothers is because of Hamas,” says an Egyptian taxi driver, representing growing anti-Hamas sentiment in that country, which also borders Gaza. “Hamas is an extremist group.”
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