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Egypt calls for immediate Gaza ceasefire

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Egypt has called on Israel and the Palestinians to accept an indefinite ceasefire and resume indirect talks in Cairo to end the Gaza crisis, Egypt’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

The ministry on Saturday called for “concerned parties to accept a ceasefire of unlimited duration and to resume indirect negotiations in Cairo”.

Earlier, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had met his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, to discuss the conflict that has killed more than 2,000 people.

A previous round of truce talks collapsed on Tuesday, shattering nine days of calm, as the deadly six-week conflict between Israel and Hamas resumed.

Since then, 84 Palestinians and one Israeli have died as a result of the violence.

“As soon as a ceasefire goes into effect, the two sides can sit down and discuss their demands,” Abbas said, adding that the Palestinian delegation would include Hamas as in past rounds.

Abbas’s meeting with Sisi came after he held two rounds of talks in Qatar on Thursday and Friday with exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, whose movement is the de facto ruler of Gaza.

Intensified raids

Israel said it had carried out 35 air strikes over the Gaza Strip on Saturday and that around 30 rockets and mortar rounds hit Israel, with another three intercepted.

Witnesses and Palestinian officials said two mosques were destroyed in the Khan Yunis area of southern Gaza, while a third, in the Shati refugee camp, which had already been damaged, was bombed again.

The deadliest air strike levelled a home in Al-Zawayda in central Gaza, killing a couple, their sons aged three and four, and a 45-year-old aunt, medics said.

Neighbours said the family house had been bombed earlier in the conflict and that the family had returned to camp out in the ruins, when it was hit overnight by an F16.

The intensified air strikes came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed harsh retribution for the killing of a four-year-old boy at his home in kibbutz Nahal Oz on Friday.

Israel said an armed group fired the deadly mortar round from next to a school in the Zeitun neighbourhood of Gaza City, which it called a “shelter maintained by Hamas authority”, correcting an earlier statement in which it had stated it was an UN-operated facility.

At least 480 Palestinian children and one Israeli child have been killed, since the conflict began, UNICEF said.

Palestinian health officials say 2,080 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in the deadliest fighting since the 2005 end of the second intifada. Four Israeli civilians and 64 soldiers have also been killed. Al Jazeera


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