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Friday, 23 October 2020

Israel airstrikes hit Gaza despite new 5-day ceasefire

The strikes follow an Egypt-sponsored ceasefire and have been described by Hamas as "unjustified"

Bassem Aly , Thursday 14 Aug 2014
Cairo Talks
Fatah official and delegation leader Azzam Ahmed talks to journalists about a new agreement to extend a truce for five more days, outside a hotel in Cairo August 13, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)
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Israel launched airstrikes on different locations inside the Gaza Strip early on Thursday.

The strikes followed the announcement of a five-day, Egypt-sponsored-ceasefire.

Palestinian sources said that Israeli military aircrafts targeted agricultural lands in the northern areas of Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahia as well as the northwestern area of Al-Sudaniya.

According to Egypt's state-run news agency MENA, unoccupied spaces east of the war-torn-enclave, as well as other rural areas in central Gaza were also attacked. No casualties have been reported thus far.

Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesperson, described such acts as " dangerous violations" and "unjustified" and assigned responsibility to Israel, MENA said.

Moments before the expiration of the 72-hour truce, at least two rockets fired from Gaza struck Israel, Reuters reported. Spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said the rockets landed in open spaces causing no damage or casualties.

Hamas, the Islamist party governing Gaza, denied firing any rockets on Israel.

In a press statement, Egypt's foreign ministry declared late Wednesday the extension of the truce between Israel and Palestinian factions for another five days.

"The five-day ceasefire aims to provide more time to resume the indirect talks in Cairo and reach a comprehensive and permanent agreement through negotiating over the issues that matter to the Palestinian people," the statement said.

Israel had no immediate, official response about the issue. But an Israeli official told Israel's Haaretz newspaper that while Tel Aviv had agreed to the extension it had also ordered the military to use force once "rocket fire breached the truce."

The Palestinian delegation in Cairo announced the start of the new temporary ceasefire.

Leader of the delegation, Azzam Al-Ahmed of Fatah, spoke of amending the truce from three to five days – along with other details – during his Wednesday press briefing.

"After Egypt revealed a new 72-hour truce, the Israelis called the Egyptian officials and told them that Saturday is a day off for them, and we told the Egyptian side about the same issue as well,” MENA quoted the Fatah leader as saying.

"We decided to expand the truce two more days because Friday and Saturday are weekend days, this way it is five days in total."

Al-Ahmed noted that delegations will discuss the ongoing situation with President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday before returning to Cairo next Saturday for a new round of talks.

Al-Ahmed told reporters that there is an agreement on many points regarding lifting the eight-year Israeli blockade on Gaza, but mentioned that negotiators needed more time to settle some remaining disputes.  

Al-Ahmed also warned earlier on Wednesday that the “situation is extremely critical" as talks produced no agreement. He added that the delegation plans to "defend the interests of the Palestinian people."

Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy leader of Hamas' political bureau, said on Twitter that the new truce seek to "solve the complexities" hindering the achievement of a solution.

Abu Marzouk, member of the Palestinian delegation, emphasised Al-Ahmed's statement regarding the return of the Palestinian group to Cairo for resumption of negotiations next week.

The Palestinian delegation officially presented its demands for a permanent ceasefire last week which included an immediate Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, halting airstrikes, lifting the Israeli blockade on the coastal strip and releasing Palestinian prisoners.  

Sources told Ahram Online that Israel's delegation left Cairo late on Wednesday.

US President Barack Obama discussed late Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ongoing negotiations mediated by Egypt to reach common ground for a ceasefire, according to a statement from the White House.

The statement also expressed the president's continued support for Egyptian efforts to achieve a "sustainable ceasefire agreement."

”The President reaffirmed United States’ support for Egypt’s mediation efforts and underscored the importance of achieving a sustainable outcome that ensures Israel’s security and addresses Gaza’s humanitarian crisis," highlighted the statement.

Israel's offensive on Gaza, which began on 8 July, has led to the death of more than 1,930 Palestinians and the injury of more than 10,000 others. A total of 64 soldiers and three civilians were also killed on the Israeli side.

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