JERUSALEM, Aug. 2 (Xinhua) -- Israel will not attend the Gaza ceasefire talks in Cairo as planned, charging that "there's no point" in trying to achieve an agreement with the Hamas movement, Israel's Ha'aretz daily reported on Saturday.
"There's no point in promoting an agreement," an Israeli official said, adding that Israel considers ending the offensive on Gaza once "deterrence is restored."
Meanwhile, the Israeli government is considering ending the fighting "unilaterally," a member of Israel's security cabinet told Ynet news website on the condition of anonymity. "We are not talking about an agreement anymore, but about establishing deterrence that will end the fighting on a 'quiet for quiet' basis. "
Earlier in the day, a senior Palestinian delegation headed to Egypt for talks on a long-term truce to end the Israeli- Palestinian fighting in the Gaza Strip.
Azzam el-Ahmad, a senior leader in Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah Party, who heads the delegation, told Xinhua that the delegation also includes representative of Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements.
Also on Saturday, a senior Palestinian official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Xinhua that efforts in Cairo on reaching a new humanitarian ceasefire for 72 hours had reached progressive degrees.
The positive progress includes Israeli ground forces' withdrawal back to the borderline areas between Israel and the Gaza Strip, the official said.
On Friday, the Israeli military said a U.S./UN backed 72-hour ceasefire in Gaza that went into effect earlier on Friday was over as military operations continued on the ground, saying that Hamas had resumed rocket fire on Israel. But Hamas said the operation was carried out one hour before the cease-fire came into effect.
Israel also accused Hamas for kidnapping one of its soldiers during a clash with Gaza militants in the southern town of Rafah. U.S. President Barack Obama called Friday to "unconditionally" release the soldier, Hadar Goldin, a 23-year-old Second Lieutenant.
For its part, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' military wing, released Saturday a statement saying that the soldier was likely killed in a bombardment.
"We lost contact with the group of combatants that took part in the ambush," the statement said, adding that "we believe they were all killed in the bombardment. Assuming that they managed to abduct the soldier during the combat, we assess that the soldier was also killed in the incident."
The Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip has claimed the lives of at least 1,664 Palestinians, most of whom were civilians, and wounded about 8,920 others, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza. On the Israeli side, at least 63 soldiers and three civilians have been killed.
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