Protesters run after Israeli troops fired tear gas during clashes
at a protest against Israeli attacks in Bethlehem.
Delays complicate Gaza truce efforts: Sisi
Cairo, August 2, 2014
Egypt's President said on Saturday a ceasefire plan proposed by his country offered the chance to end the Gaza conflict between Israel and Hamas, but warned that lost time further complicated matters.
"The Egyptian initiative is a real chance to find a real solution to the crisis taking place in the Gaza Strip," Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi told a joint press conference in Cairo with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
"Lost time ...complicates the situation more and more."
A Palestinian Liberation Organization delegation led by senior official Azzam Al-Ahmed will fly into Cairo from Jordan for talks, a Palestinian official in Ramallah said. Exiled officials from Hamas and the Islamic Jihad militant group will also join the negotiations.
But following a breakdown of a truce on Friday, Hamas officials in Gaza will not attend.
Gaza officials say at least 1,654 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed since the Israeli offensive started on July 8. Sixty-three Israeli soldiers have died, and three civilians have been killed by Palestinian rockets in Israel.
Hamas leaders have said any Egypt-brokered deal must include an end to Israel's blockade of Gaza and called for Cairo to ease curbs at its Rafah crossing with Gaza imposed after the military ousted President Mohamed Mursi, an Islamist, a year ago.
Meanwhile, the Israeli military told Palestinians who had fled fighting in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya they could return on Saturday, signalling its offensive in the area was winding down.
"The residents are advised to beware of explosive devices Hamas has spread across the area," the military said in a statement summarising what it said had been all-clear messages relayed to Beit Lahiya's 70,000 residents. - Reuters