UK & World News

  • 7 August 2014, 5:19

Hamas And Israel At Odds Over Ceasefire Plan

Israel has conditionally offered to extend a ceasefire in Gaza beyond its Friday deadline - but Hamas denied there had been any agreement.

An Israeli official said Israel "had no problem" extending the three-day truce with Hamas, but did not say for how long.

But Hamas deputy leader Mussa Abu Marzuq, part of the Palestinian delegation holding talks in Cairo, denied there was yet any agreement.

"There is no agreement to extend the ceasefire," he wrote on Twitter.

"Any news about the extension of the truce is unfounded," added Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri added.

The ceasefire entered its second day on Wednesday, giving Gazansa chance to return from refugee camps and see what remained of their homes.

The break in fightingcomes as Egyptian mediators shuttle between delegations from both sides in Cairo to try to work out a more permanent peace deal.

Some details have emerged about the negotiating points of Hamas, including an internationally funded reconstruction of the coastal strip.

Under the Hamas terms, the reconstruction would be overseen by a Palestinian unity government led by Mahmoud Abbas.

United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon said the UN was ready to help rebuild Gaza - but for the last time.

He told the UN General Assembly in New York: "Do we have to continue like this - build, destroy, and build and destroy?

"We will build again but this must be the last time - to rebuild. This must stop now."

Shortly before the announcement about a possible ceasefire extension, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahulaunched a vigorous defence of the conflict.

"I think it was justified. I think it was proportionate and that doesn't in any way take away the deep regret we have for the loss of a single civilian casualty," he told a news conference in Jerusalem.

He said it would have been disproportionate to not "defend your people and giving the terrorists a licence to kill".

The fighting has killed nearly 1,900 Palestinians, while Israel has lost 67 people, three of whom were civilians.

In Gaza, cars and donkey carts loaded with household goods and mattresses filled the streets and queues formed at banks as people waited to withdraw cash.

Small groups of civilians trickled back to their homes, making their way over buckled roads, through dangling power lines and overturned trees.

Volunteers in southern Gaza city Rafah, which experienced some of the worst fighting and bombardment, began to dig graves to bury bodies which have filled up morgues.

Meanwhile, crews from utility companies worked frantically to repair downed electricity and telephone lines, though Gaza's only power plant was damaged by an airstrike.

In the Shijaiyah neighbourhood east of Gaza City, carpenter Mahmoud Al Maghani, 44, said: "I think my workshop was here, but honestly I can't make sure of that. I came yesterday and all I found was rubble."

Turkey is now in talks with Israel and Egypt about establishing an air corridor to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza and evacuate injured Palestinians for treatment.

The war broke out on July 8, when the Israeli military began bombarding targets in Gaza in an attempt to stop Hamas from launching rockets at Israel.

Ground troops were sent in on July 17 to destroy underground tunnels, Israel military said.

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