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Israeli Security Cabinet to Meet Tuesday on Truce Proposal

  • VOA News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will convene his decision-making security cabinet on Tuesday to discuss an Egyptian-proposed cease-fire in the Gaza conflict, an Israeli official said.

The official seemed to put a positive face on the proposed truce, saying that Israel's week-old offensive in the Gaza Strip had weakened the Islamist Hamas group militarily.

The proposal marks the most serious attempt yet by international mediators to end the conflict. In a speech broadcast on Al-Jazeera, Ismail Haniyeh, a Hamas leader in Gaza, confirmed there was "diplomatic movement."

Egypt proposed the initiative late Monday aimed at stopping fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, state news agency MENA said.

The proposal, which would take effect at 0600 GMT on Tuesday, calls for a cease-fire within 12 hours of that time, followed by negotiations between both sides in Cairo within 48 hours.

Worldwide pressure has been mounting for a cease-fire in the week-long clash in the Gaza Strip, but the warring parties continued their attacks across the skies on Monday.

The Arab League said in a statement it welcomed the Egyptian initiative "to protect the lives of the innocent."

A White House spokesman says the U.S. will be engaged in an effort to reduce tensions in the region.

President Barack Obama praised Egypt's proposal Monday, saying he's hopeful the plan can restore calm in the wake of a deadly wave of violence.

"We're going to continue to do everything we can to facilitate a return to the 2012 cease-fire,'' Obama said at a White House dinner celebrating the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. "We are encouraged that Egypt has made a proposal to accomplish that goal.''

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will hold talk with Egyptian officials in Cairo on situation on Tuesday, Egypt's state news agency said.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who reached an agreement with Hamas in April that led to the formation of a unity government last month, welcomed the Egyptian proposal and urged its acceptance, official Palestinian news agency WAFA said.

Hamas has said it would not agree to end its rocket attacks into Israel without several concessions from the Jewish state, including the end to its blockade of the Gaza Strip and the release of Palestinian prisoners it is holding.

Rocket attacks

Also, two Israeli airstrikes targeted the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, killing four Palestinians and bringing the death toll from the seven days of attacks to 185, including militants, women and children.

An Israeli police explosives expert carries the remains of a rocket fired from Gaza that landed in Ashdod, Israel, July 14, 2014.

An Israeli police explosives expert carries the remains of a rocket fired from Gaza that landed in Ashdod, Israel, July 14, 2014.

Israel said there have been no deaths in the rocket attacks by Hamas. It credits its Iron Dome anti-missile defense system for the lack of casualties.

Earlier Monday, the Israeli military said it shot down a drone aircraft that flew into Israel from Gaza but mostly held back from a threatened escalation of attacks on the northern Gaza Strip.

A spokesperson said the drone, the first reported deployment of an unmanned aircraft by Palestinian militants, was flying over Ashdod, located about halfway between the Gaza Strip and Tel Aviv, when Israeli forces hit it with a Patriot missile on Monday.

“Hamas is trying for an achievement at any price,” Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, referring to the drone, said in a statement on Monday. “We will continue to pummel Hamas and other terrorist organizations until the safety of Israeli citizens is ensured.”

The military also said Hamas militants fired more than 20 rockets Monday from Gaza, while Israeli warplanes and naval gunboats targeted dozens of sites overnight in their nearly weeklong campaign to halt the rocket attacks.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed alarm at the violence and demanded both sides take immediate steps to end the fighting.

Ban said in a statement late Sunday Hamas rocket fire goes against international law, while "too many Palestinians have been killed" by Israeli airstrikes.

More Than 180 Palestinians killed

A Palestinian reads from the Quran during the funeral of Munir Badarin, who was shot during clashes with Israeli soldiers in the West Bank village of Samoa, south of Hebron, July 14, 2014.

A Palestinian reads from the Quran during the funeral of Munir Badarin, who was shot during clashes with Israeli soldiers in the West Bank village of Samoa, south of Hebron, July 14, 2014.

On Monday Palestinian officials said more than 180 people have been killed, including militants, since Israel launched its offensive last Tuesday. Most of the dead are said to be civilians.

The U.N. children's agency said Monday that 33 children are among those who have died, and that young people are "bearing the brunt" of the violence.

It joined the U.N. Security Council's call from Saturday for an immediate cease-fire.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Hamas for civilian casualties, saying Sunday the militants are hiding explosives beneath hospitals and using Gaza residents as human shields.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he has appealed to Ban for "international protection" for the Palestinian people.

International calls for a cease-fire have grown as the death toll has mounted in the worst flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian violence for almost two years, sparked by the murder of three Israeli teenagers and revenge killing of a Palestinian youth.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.

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