Truce elusive as Hamas, Israel stick to positions

2014-07-21 22:07
Palestinian militants of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' armed wing, attend the funeral of militant Mohammed Obied during his funeral in the town of Deir al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip. (Said Khatib, AFP)

Palestinian militants of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' armed wing, attend the funeral of militant Mohammed Obied during his funeral in the town of Deir al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip. (Said Khatib, AFP)

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Gaza City - The top Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip signalled on Monday that the Islamic militant group will not agree to an unconditional cease-fire with Israel, while Israel's defence minister pledged to keep fighting "as long as necessary" - raising new doubt about the highest-level mediation mission in two weeks.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry were heading to Cairo on Monday to try to end the deadliest conflict between Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers in just over five years.

Meanwhile, cross-border fighting continued unabated, with Israeli strikes leaving entire families buried under rubble and Hamas militants firing more than 50 rockets and trying to sneak into Israel through two tunnels, the latest in a series of such attempts.

Palestinian health officials said at least 550 Palestinians have been killed and 3 350 wounded since the new round of fighting started on 8 July. Twenty Israelis, including 18 soldiers, were also killed and several dozen wounded, including soldiers.

On Monday, Israeli fighter planes struck homes across Gaza, burying at least three families under the rubble in at least four cases, said Ashraf al-Kidra, a Palestinian health official.

In one of the strikes, nine members of a single family were killed in Gaza City, he said. In another, 10 people of a family were killed in the southern Gaza Strip.

Also, rescuers going through the wreckage of a house targeted late on Sunday retrieved 28 bodies in the town of Khan Younis, including at least 24 from the Abu Jamea family, according to al-Kidra and a local human rights group.

- AP
Read more on:    palestine  |  israel  |  gaza
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