Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Egypt urges Hamas, Israel to agree to cease-fire

JERUSALEM — Egypt on Monday proposed a cease-fire to end a weeklong Israeli offensive against Islamist militants in the Gaza Strip that has triggered volleys of rocket fire at Israeli cities and left more than 180 Palestinians dead, many of them civilians.

According to the Egyptian proposal, a cease-fire between Israel and the Islamist group Hamas and allied factions in Gaza would take effect 12 hours from its "unconditional acceptance" by the sides this morning.

That would be followed by the opening of border crossings to Gaza and indirect negotiations in Cairo within 48 hours, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said. The proposal came ahead of a planned visit to Egypt today by Secretary of State John Kerry.

At a Ramadan dinner at the White House, President Barack Obama said the United States was "encouraged" by the Egyptian proposal. But while he called the deaths of Palestinian civilians "a tragedy," he gave no indication that the United States was pressing Israel to end the air strikes.

"We've been very clear that Israel has the right to defend itself against what I consider inexcusable attacks from Hamas," he said.

The Israeli security cabinet was due to meet early today to discuss the proposal, and Israeli news reports said that it was likely to accept the plan.

Hamas officials had no immediate response, but Ismail Haniyeh, a top Hamas leader in Gaza, said in a broadcast speech that there had been "diplomatic movement," and that his group was seeking an end to border closures imposed by Israel and Egypt on the coastal enclave.

"The problem is the reality of Gaza, the siege, the starving, the bombing," Haniyeh said. "The siege must stop and the people of Gaza need to live in dignity."

Hamas officials had insisted that they would agree to a cease-fire only if border closures were lifted and former prisoners re-arrested by Israel in a crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank in June would be freed. The men were detained after the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank, which Israel blamed on Hamas.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that the goals of the Israeli campaign were to deliver a heavy blow to Hamas while halting rocket attacks from Gaza for an extended period of time.

A similar truce was brokered by Egypt in 2012, but it gradually unraveled as rocket firings and Israeli airstrikes on Gaza resumed, escalating in June after the kidnapping of the Israeli teens and leading to the most recent round of cross-border fighting.

With Palestinians counting at least 185 dead and more than 1,300 wounded in seven days of fierce Israeli bombardments from land, sea and air, United Nations officials accused the Israeli military on Monday of failing to take adequate measures to prevent civilian casualties.

The dead in Monday's barrage included a 4-year-old girl who was reported killed along with two other people in a strike on the home of a commander in the Islamic Jihad group in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah.

In Israel, two sisters, ages 10 and 13, were wounded, one seriously, when a rocket slammed into a Bedouin encampment in the southern Negev region.

Israeli strikes on scores of family homes of suspected militants in Gaza have led to multiple deaths of relatives and neighbors.

In the deadliest such attack, a house was bombed on Saturday in Gaza City, killing 18 people, including six children and three women, one of them pregnant, and wounding 16 others, according to the United Nations. One of the wounded was Taysir al-Batsh, the Gaza police chief, who was apparently the intended target.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a report Sunday that 80 percent of those killed in the Israeli bombardments were civilians, and that the Israeli strikes had destroyed or severely damaged 940 homes, displacing 5,600 people.

An additional 17,000 people from the northern Gaza Strip left their homes for shelter in 20 U.N.-run schools after the Israeli army warned them to evacuate in advance of what the military said would be stepped-up airstrikes.

At a news conference Monday in Gaza, Pierre Krahenbuhl, the commissioner general of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, which provides aid to Palestinian refugees, called on Israel to "end attacks against or endangering civilians and civilian infrastructure, which are contrary to international humanitarian law."

The Israeli Foreign Ministry accused Hamas of committing war crimes by indiscriminately firing rockets at Israeli cities and storing arms in residential areas of Gaza. "Hamas' actions are in clear violation of the most fundamental principles of the laws of armed conflict," the ministry said.

Introducing a new element to the conflict, Hamas on Monday sent a drone into Israeli airspace. It was shot down with a Patriot surface-to-air missile off the coast near the southern Israeli city of Ashdod, the army said.

Hamas said it had launched three unmanned aerial vehicles into Israel, one of which reached the Israeli Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv, but Israeli military officials said only one aircraft was spotted and downed.

In the West Bank, Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian near Hebron. The army said soldiers opened fire at masked youths who threw stones and a Molotov cocktail at passing cars.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Egypt urges Hamas, Israel to agree to cease-fire 07/14/14 [Last modified: Monday, July 14, 2014 11:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Tribune News Service.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Odessa teacher arrested on theft charges after deputies say she stole from fellow teacher


    A Odessa elementary school teacher is facing theft charges after Hillsborough County deputies said she swiped money and a credit card from another teacher on the playground.

    Sylvia Clark, 58, a teacher at Hammond Elementary School in Odessa, faces charges after Hillsborough County deputies say she took money from a fellow teacher and used a stolen credit card. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  2. For starters: Rays vs. Cubs, trying to get even with Joe Maddon


    After a tough 2-1 loss on Tuesday, the Rays take on the Cubs again tonight, looking to split the two-game series with former manager Joe Maddon.

    The Rays are starting young LHP Blake Snell, and the Cubs are starting veteran LHP Jon Lester.

    Here is the Rays lineup:

    Kiermaier cf,

  3. Mexicans dig through collapsed buildings as quake kills 225 (w/video)


    MEXICO CITY — Rescuers found a surviving child on Wednesday in the ruins of a school that collapsed in Mexico's magnitude 7.1 earthquake, one of many efforts across the city to try to save people trapped in debris under schools, homes and businesses toppled by the quake that killed at least 225 people.

    A man is rescued from a collapsed building in the Condesa neighborhood after an earthquake struck Mexico City, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. The 7.1 earthquake stunned central Mexico, killing more than 100 people. [Associated Press]
  4. Hurricane Maria tears off roofs, triggers flooding in Puerto Rico



    [National Hurricane Center]
  5. Construction starts on USF medical school, the first piece of Tampa's Water Street project


    TAMPA — Dozens of workers in hard hats and boots were busy at work at the corner of South Meridian Avenue and Channelside Drive Wednesday morning, signaling the start of construction on the University of South Florida's new Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute.

    A rendering shows what the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute will look like when completed in 2019. Local officials gathered Wednesday to celebrate as construction begins on the facility, the first piece of the Water Street redevelopment area in downtown Tampa. [Rendering courtesy of the USF Health]