Israel welcomes Egypt-proposed Gaza truce, Hamas rejects

Israel welcomes Egypt-proposed Gaza truce, Hamas rejects

PanARMENIAN.Net - An Egyptian-proposed deal that would halt the week-old Gaza shelling war was welcomed by Israel on Tuesday, July 15, but regarded suspiciously by the Palestinian territory's dominant Hamas Islamists, who said they had not been consulted by Cairo, according to Reuters.

Egypt's proposalcalled for a ceasefire within 12 hours of that time, followed by negotiations between both sides in Cairo within 48 hours.

Hamas's armed wing vowed its attacks would "increase in ferocity and intensity" but Palestinian rocket salvoes waned ahead of the mooted 0700 BST truce, with Israel saying there had been two cross-border launches overnight that caused no damage.

Israel said it bombed 25 sites in Gaza, where Palestinian officials said a 63-year-old man and a 52-year-old woman were killed - bringing the enclave's death toll to more than 182, most of them civilians.

At Israeli military headquarters in Tel Aviv, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened his security cabinet for a vote on the ceasefire.

Amos Gilad, a senior Israeli defence official and envoy to Cairo, cast the deal positively, saying Hamas had been weakened by the air and sea bombardment of impoverished Gaza.

"Look at the balance, and you see that Hamas tried every possible means of striking at Israel while bringing great and terrible damage on its people, from their perspective," Gilad told Israel's Army Radio.

"The Egyptian proposal includes a halt to all kind of (military) activity," he said. "What this proposal, if it is accepted, means is that, willy-nilly, Hamas did not manage to make good on its intentions."

Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said the Islamist group had not received an official ceasefire proposal, and he repeated its position that demands it has made must be met before it lays down its weapons.

Hamas's armed wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, rejected the reported text of the truce deal, saying: "Our battle with the enemy continues and will increase in ferocity and intensity."

The surge in hostilities over the past week was prompted by the murder last month of three Jewish seminary students in the occupied West Bank and the revenge killing on July 2 of a Palestinian youth in Jerusalem.

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