Rabu, 12 November 2014

Gaza conflict: Israel and Hamas agree 12-hour window

srael and Hamas have said they have accepted a 12-hour humanitarian window in Gaza.

The truce is due to begin at 0800 local time (0500 GMT). Efforts to negotiate a seven-day ceasefire are still ongoing.

Earlier US Secretary of State John Kerry said he was still confident of a longer ceasefire, despite media reports that Israel had rejected one proposal.

More than 800 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 36 Israelis have died since the conflict started on 8 July.

A spokesman for Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza, Sami Abu Zuhri said there was "national consensus on a humanitarian truce... for 12 hours on Saturday".

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) later confirmed the truce on Twitter, but said it would "continue to locate and neutralise terror tunnels".

"We will respond if terrorists choose to exploit this time to attack IDF personnel or fire at Israeli civilians," it said in a statement.

The news came shortly after Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon warned that ground operations in Gaza could soon be broadened "significantly".

Mr Yaalon told soldiers: "You need to be ready for the possibility that very soon we will instruct the military to significantly broaden the ground operation in Gaza".

Hamas has previously said it would not agree to any long-term truce that did not lead to an end to Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The British ambassador to the UN, Mark Lyall Grant, said he was disappointed at the failure to reach a longer-term truce.

But he welcomed Saturday's 12-hour truce, saying it could "open up a little bit of space to work on a more sustainable ceasefire."

West Bank clashes
According to the UN, Israeli air strikes killed a further 68 people in Gaza on Friday, bringing the total number of Palestinian dead to about 870.

There were also clashes during protests in the West Bank which left at least five Palestinians dead.

Palestinians in the West Bank had been taking part in a "Day of Rage" against Israel's military operation in the Gaza Strip.

Air strikes continued against targets in Gaza on Friday

Meanwhile Israel's military said its Iron Dome defence system had intercepted several rockets fired across the border by Hamas.

Israel launched its military offensive on 8 July with the declared objective of stopping Hamas firing rockets into Israel.

It has since extended its operation to destroy tunnels dug by militants to infiltrate Israel.

Several foreign ministers, including Mr Kerry, are due to hold a meeting in France on Saturday to seek a diplomatic solution.

"The goal is to bring together international efforts so that as quickly as possible conditions for a cease-fire in Gaza emerge," said a French foreign ministry spokesman.

The foreign ministers of the EU, UK, Germany, Turkey and Qatar will also take part.

Israel's Iron Dome system intercepted several rockets fired from Gaza on Friday

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