Thursday, Apr 26, 2018
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Cease-firetakes effec tin Gaza Strip

Long-term truce talks will resume in Cairo


Smoke from a fire on a cleaning materials factory caused by an Israeli strike rises over Gaza City on Sunday.


GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israel and the Hamas militant group accepted a new cease-fire proposal Sunday, clearing the way for the resumption of talks on a long-term truce to end a month of heavy fighting in the Gaza Strip that has taken nearly 2,000 lives.

The announcement marked the second time in less than a week that the enemies had agreed to Egyptian mediation.

A similar three-day truce last week gave way to renewed violence over the weekend.

The new truce took effect at 5 p.m. Eastern time (midnight local time), preceded by heavy rocket fire toward Israel.

In Cairo, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said the cease-fire would allow humanitarian aid into battered Gaza neighborhoods, and the reopening of indirect talks on a more lasting and comprehensive deal.

Hamas is seeking an end to the Israeli-Egyptian blockade against Gaza, while Israel wants Hamas to dismantle its arsenal of rockets and other weapons.

Palestinian negotiators accepted the proposal early Sunday after meeting with Egyptian officials throughout the weekend. Israeli officials concurred later. Both delegations are back in Cairo.

Qais Abdelkarim, a member of the Palestinian delegation, said indirect talks with the Israelis would begin Monday “with the hope of reaching a lasting cease-fire.”

The goal, he said, was to end the blockade, which he called “the reason for the war.”

The recent fighting has been the heaviest between Israel and Hamas since Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007.

More than 1,900 Palestinians have been killed, including hundreds of civilians.

On the Israeli side, 67 people have been killed, including three civilians. Nearly 10,000 people have been wounded, and thousands of homes destroyed.

The fighting ended in a three-day cease-fire on Tuesday.

Egypt had hoped to use that truce to mediate a long-term deal.

But when it expired, militants resumed their rocket fire, sparking Israeli reprisals.

The violence continued throughout the weekend, including a burst of fighting late Sunday ahead of the new cease-fire.

Israel had walked away from cease-fire talks over the weekend.

“Israel will not negotiate under fire,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier Sunday, warning that his country’s military campaign “will take time.”

Last week’s talks failed, in part, because Israel rejected Hamas’ demand for a complete end to the blockade.

Israel says the closure is necessary to prevent weapons smuggling.

Officials also do not want to make concessions that would allow Hamas to declare victory.

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