Israelis, Palestinians begin new talks to end Gaza war

GAZA/JERUSALEM, (Reuters) – Israeli and Palestinian negotiators resumed indirect talks mediated by Egypt yesterday to end a month-old Gaza war, Egypt’s state news agency said, after a new 72-hour truce held for a day.

Israeli negotiators flew in and out of Cairo yesterday, an Egyptian official said, but no details were released on the talks.

Hamas is demanding an end to Israeli and Egyptian blockades of the Gaza Strip and opening of a seaport in the enclave, a project Israel says should be dealt with only in any future talks on a permanent peace agreement with the Palestinians.

A month of war has killed 1,938 Palestinians and 67 Israelis while devastating wide tracts of densely populated Gaza. Egypt’s Foreign Ministry has urged both sides to work towards “a comprehensive and lasting ceasefire agreement”.

Gaza hospital officials have said the Palestinian death toll has been mainly civilian since the July 8 launch of Israel’s military campaign to quell Gaza rocket fire.

Israel has lost 64 soldiers and three civilians, while heavy losses among civilians and the destruction of thousands of homes in Gaza have drawn international condemnation.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the new negotiations would be “the last chance” for an agreement.

Israeli representatives are not meeting face-to-face with the Palestinian delegation because it includes Hamas, which Israel regards as a terrorist organisation.

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