Tuesday, 3rd March 2015

Breakthrough made in Gaza truce talks - Hamas source

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An important breakthrough has emerged in indirect Palestinian-Israeli negotiations on a durable ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, a source in Islamic Hamas movement said on Monday.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Xinhua that the new development might lead to the announcement of a ceasefire deal within the next few hours.

According to the source, intensive contacts are being made between Egypt, which mediates the negotiations, and Hamas leaders in Qatar. "The announcement will be declared by the Egyptian foreign ministry," the source said.

The source did not elaborate, but added that the deal goes in line with the Palestinians' demands which were presented recently to Egypt after the collapse of the last round of talks.

Meanwhile, a source in the office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told Xinhua that the coming hours will witness a permanent ceasefire agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis under Egyptian auspices.

The new deal is based on the principles and terms of the Egyptian-mediated truce deal of 2012, the source revealed, adding that the Palestinian side has accepted the deal, but is still awaiting the Israeli response, although there is a preliminary approval from the Israeli side.

Last Tuesday, the Egypt-hosted and -mediated indirect ceasefire negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians collapsed after nine days of discussions. Egypt has urged both sides to resume talks to avoid more casualties and bloodshed.

Hamas, the de-facto ruler of Gaza, said it will study any offer that will meet the needs and demands of the Palestinian people. Abbas has left Cairo Sunday after a two-day official visit where he met with his Egyptian counterpart Abdul Fattah al-Sisi. Earlier, Abbas had met in Doha with Prince of Qatar Tamim Ben Hamad and Hamas chief Khaled Mishal.

Conditions put forward by the Palestinian delegation include ending the Israeli offensive on Gaza, lifting the eight-year blockade, extending the fishing zone as well as creating a passenger and goods maritime route between Gaza and Cyprus.

Senior Hamas official killed in Israeli targeted airstrike

The Israeli military killed on Sunday a senior Hamas finance official in the Gaza Strip, a military spokesperson said, in a fourth assassination of top Hamas leaders over the past week.

The official was named Mohamed Al-Oul, who was in charge of Hamas financial transaction of "terror funds," the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added that Israeli warplanes targeted Al-Oul earlier Sunday in the northern Gaza Strip, and "a hit was confirmed."

It wasn't immediately clear whether other people were killed in the incident.

The assassination seems to signal at Israel's new goal of wreaking havoc within the leadership of Hamas, the Islamist group who dominates Gaza.

On Thursday, Israel hit three senior leaders of Hamas military wing, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, in the southern Gaza Strip. A day earlier, Israel attempted to kill Mohammed Deif, commander of the Al-Qassam Brigades, who escaped Israeli assassination attempts at least four times in the past. The fate of Deif has remained unknown but the attack killed his wife and child.

Since the Gaza war erupted on July 8, at least 2,107 Palestinians have been killed, mostly civilians, and 10,693 have been injured, according to Gaza health officials.

On Saturday, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry released a statement calling on Israel and the Palestinians to accept an indefinite ceasefire and to resume the indirect negotiations in Cairo.

Israel has not released any statement in response but Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for a resumption of the talks "as soon as possible." JERUSALEM, Aug. 24 (Xinhua)



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