JERUSALEM, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) -- Israel and Hamas had reached a deal on extending the temporary truce by an extra 24 hours until Tuesday at midnight (GMT 2100), an Israeli official confirmed to Xinhua.
Egypt urged both sides to agree to extend the current 120-hour truce, set to expire on Monday midnight, for another 24 hours in hopes of reaching a permanent truce agreement that would officially end the Gaza offensive by that time, the official said.
According to the Egyptian outline, reported by the Channel 10 news, a limited and initial deal will be announced by the end of the 24-hour cease fire.
The framework of this initial agreement would include the easing of the Israeli blockade on the strip, extending the fishing zone (to 12 nautical miles off the coast) and having Palestinian Authority personnel enter Gaza Strip to oversee the crossings, as well as allowing incoming humanitarian aid, Channel 10 reported.
The initial deal will not include such topics as Hamas' demands to release 56 prisoners, establishing a seaport and Israel's demand to demilitarize the strip and having Hamas return the bodies of two soldiers killed in clashes in the strip.
Those substantial topics, according to the Egyptian outline, will be discussed in one month's time in another round of indirect negotiations, sponsored by Egypt.
Earlier on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gathered a special consultation in the military headquarters in Tel Aviv with Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, the Israel Defense Forces' Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and the head of the Shin bet security agency, Yoram Cohen.
Beforehand, Netanyahu said Israel is ready to strike forcefully at the Gaza Strip if the missile fire would be renewed and Defense Minister Ya'alon said the operation is not yet over, adding that they are waiting to hear back from the discussions in Cairo.
In the past two weeks, Israel and Hamas had several continuous temporary truces, during which time delegates on their behalf conducted indirect talks in Cairo to reach a final deal to end the offensive, which has claimed the lives of more than 2,000 Palestinians and 67 Israelis since July 8.
UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) --- The UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) is taking over disposal of weaponry discovered in UN schools in the Gaza Strip, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry said here Monday.
During the latest round of violence in the Middle East, half a dozen UN sites sheltering people in Gaza were hit by Israeli rockets or shelling, violating UN neutrality. The schools are operated by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Full story
GAZA, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) -- Israel's nearly two-month-long military campaign against the Gaza Strip has cost the coastal enclave an estimated six to eight billion U.S. dollars, a senior Palestinian official said on Monday.
After more than 40 days of an Israeli war and blockade, "the territory is now a devastated area that needs unified efforts in order to reconstruct it," Mufeed al-Hasayna, minister of housing and public works in the Palestinian unity government, said at a workshop held in Gaza City. Full story