Israel, Palestinians agree to 72-hour ceasefire
“Israel has accepted Egypt’s proposal,” a senior Israeli government official said, adding Israeli negotiators would return to Cairo today to resume indirect talks with the Palestinians if the truce held.
A Hamas official said Palestinian factions had accepted Egypt’s call and that the Cairo talks would continue.
Earlier, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “Israel will not negotiate under fire” and warned of a protracted Israeli military campaign in the Gaza Strip if rocket salvos continued.
Israeli air strikes and shelling on Sunday killed nine Palestinians in Gaza, including a boy of 14 and a woman, medics said, in a third day of renewed fighting.
Before the truce ran out, Israel said it was ready to agree to an extension. Hamas did not agree, calling for an end to the economically stifling blockade of the enclave that both Israel and Egypt, which regards the Islamist movement as a security threat, have imposed.
A sticking point has been Israel’s demand for guarantees that Hamas would not use any reconstruction supplies sent to Gaza to build more tunnels of the sort that Palestinian fighters have used to infiltrate the Jewish state.
Gaza hospital officials say the Palestinian death toll has been mainly civilian since the July 8 launch of Israel’s military campaign to quell Gaza rocket fire.
Israeli tanks and infantry left the enclave on Tuesday after the army said it had completed its main mission of destroying more than 30 tunnels dug by militants for cross-border attacks.
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