News / Middle East

Israel-Hamas Cease-Fire Holding, Truce Talks to Open in Cairo

  • An Israeli soldier gestures from atop a tank after crossing the border back into Israel. Israel pulled its ground forces out of the Gaza Strip at the start of a 72-hour ceasefire with Hamas, Aug. 5, 2014. 
  • Palestinians sit on the remains of their destroyed homes after returning to Beit Hanoun, which witnesses said was heavily hit by Israeli shelling and air strikes during the Israeli offensive, in the northern Gaza Strip, Aug. 5, 2014. 
  • An Israeli soldier from the Nahal Brigade carries his weapon after returning to Israel from Gaza, Aug. 5, 2014. 
  • Palestinians look at destroyed houses after returning to the Shejaia neighborhood, which witnesses said was heavily hit by Israeli shelling and air strikes during the Israeli offensive, east of Gaza City, Aug. 5, 2014. 
  • Israeli soldiers fire a mortar shell towards the Gaza Strip, near the Israel - Gaza border, Aug. 4, 2014. 
  • Mohammed al-Bakri brings the body of his three-year-old son Kamal to the boy's wounded mother, Dua, at the Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Aug. 5, 2014. 
  • Relatives take the bodies of four Palestinians, who relatives say were killed in a missile strike, from the hospital for burial, in Beit Lahiya, Gaza Strip, Aug. 4, 2014.
  • Smoke rises over Gaza City after an Israeli strike, minutes before 8 am (0500 GMT), the time agreed for a preliminary 72-hour cease-fire, on Aug. 5, 2014. 
VOA News

Israeli and Palestinian delegations are in Cairo for truce talks as a 72 hour cease-fire in Gaza appears to be holding for a second day.

U.S. and U.N. diplomats will join the talks on a longer term truce. The discussions also are expected to deal with underlying issues that led to a month of Israeli airstrikes in response to Hamas rocket attacks.

No one expects the talks to be easy. Israel is demanding that Gaza be demilitarized, while Hamas insists Israel and Egypt end their long-standing blockades of Gaza.

Gaza residents took advantage of the calm to visit shattered homes and stores, looking to salvage whatever is left of their lives. Many neighborhoods are unrecognizable piles of ruins.

More than 1,800 Palestinians were killed over the last month, mostly civilians. Sixty-four Israeli solders and three civilians died.

Israeli ground forces have retreated from Gaza, but remain on the defensive.

In New York, Jordan has circulated a Security Council resolution calling for a permanent cease-fire, lifting Israel's blockade of Gaza, and a global effort to rebuild the area.

Residents skeptical

Israelis and Palestinians are hopeful yet skeptical about the truce. Several attempted cease-fires have failed, including last Friday, when what was supposed to be a three-day truce ended in just two hours.

The shelling devastated Gaza's infrastructure, leveling residential buildings, schools and businesses. As the cease-fire took hold Tuesday morning, many Gazans left shelters to find rubble where their homes once stood.

And, just minutes before the truce took hold early Tuesday, both Israel and Hamas engaged in a display of firepower, seemingly determined to have the last word before putting down their weapons.

Sirens wailed in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv as Hamas fired 16 rockets over the border, while Israeli warplanes staged at least five air strikes on Gaza.

Inshirah Masser walked over piles of debris that used to be her home in the Gazan city of Beit Hanoun, unsure where her family will live now.

"Look at our houses and our children, everything is destroyed, four apartments, all my children are stranded in the schools, where are we supposed to go?" Masser asked.

After seeking shelter in a U.N. school, Ibrahim El Zaim worried how long the cease-fire would be maintained. By the time he returned home after the last short-lived truce, shelling had already begun.

"I heard there was a truce and I hope it is a long-lasting one because they said there was a truce before and we left, but 5 minutes after we got home, the air strikes started," El Zaim said. "God-willing, this time they will be true to their word and this would be a real truce so we can be safe in our homes."

The 72-hour break in fighting isn't enough for Israeli resident Yaakov Argentaro, who said a shell hit his home shortly before the cease-fire.

"It's my daughter's room behind me. It was directly hit in the salvo that was shot [by Gaza militants] a few minutes before 8 a.m.," Argentaro said.

"Since we, as a community, have been experiencing it for the past 15 years, as far as we are concerned, it's intolerable," Argentaro said. "I need a cease-fire for 15 years. If there won't be a cease-fire for 15 years, as far as I'm concerned it's not a cease-fire. We live in fear."

Cease-fire terms

According to the 72-hour truce brokered by Egypt, Israel and Hamas will hold indirect talks in Cairo on a formula for a long-term cease-fire. But the gaps are wide.

Israel said it wants the disarming of Hamas, which has fired thousands of rockets into Israel in recent weeks. It said any loosening of the blockade must still ensure that Hamas does not import weapons or weapons-producing material.

Hamas is demanding Israel withdraw its forces from Gaza, end its blockade of the coastal enclave, release Palestinian prisoners, and provide other assistance for residents who already faced a humanitarian crisis before the fighting began.

Israel has also come under international criticism for a Sunday airstrike in the southern Gaza town of Rafah that killed at least 10 civilians who had sought shelter in a United Nations school.

The U.S. State Department on Monday urged both parties to "completely" respect the latest truce effort, saying it could help lead to a more durable solution.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also praised the truce, saying talks should commence "as soon as possible" and deal with "underlying issues."

War crimes charge

Meanwhile, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki, a representative of the Palestinian Authority (PA), denounced what he called Israel's "atrocities" against Gaza to International Criminal Court prosecutors at The Hague.

After meeting International Criminal Court prosecutors on Tuesday, al-Malki told reporters that “everything that has happened in the last 28 days is clear evidence of war crimes committed by Israel, amounting to crimes against humanity."

He said, "There is no difficulty for us to show or build the case. Evidence is there ... Israel is in clear violation of international law.”

Malki visited The Hague shortly after Israel and the Palestinian Islamist Hamas movement that rules Gaza entered a 72-hour truce mediated by Egypt.

He called for a thorough investigation into actions on both sides of the conflict.

"If it really entails actions committed by certain Palestinian groups, then we are ready to accept that consequences, absolutely, but nothing is compared, nothing is compared, nothing is compared to the atrocities, the carnage, committed by Israel against the innocent Palestinians in Gaza," al-Malki said.

The Palestinian government would have to join the ICC for the international legal body to review the allegations.

Malki said the Palestinians aimed to formally joint the ICC to open the legal avenue for an investigation. He said he had discussed with prosecutors a timeline to apply, though the duality of the PA governing the West Bank and its political rival Hamas ruling Gaza may impede the application process.

Israel and the Palestinians traded accusations of war crimes during the Israeli military onslaught into Gaza, during which Hamas kept up rocket fire into the Jewish state, while defending their own actions as consistent with international law.

Last week, the United Nations launched an inquiry into human rights violations and crimes alleged to have been committed by Israel during the offensive given the far higher toll of civilian death and physical destruction on the Palestinian side.

Israel declined public comment, but a senior Israeli official who asked to be identified said any ICC legal action against Israel over the Gaza conflict would prompt an Israeli counter-suit at the ICC against the Palestinians.

But given that neither Israel nor the Palestinians are members of the ICC, the court would have no jurisdiction over Gaza at this time.

This could be granted in a U.N. Security Council resolution, but Israel's main ally, the United States, would have the power to veto any such proposal.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters, AP and AFP.

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by: Godwin from: Nigeria
August 05, 2014 12:34 PM
Foul! Israel should not accept any prolonged cease fire at this juncture, without a complete demilitarization of the Gaza Strip. Hamas, the UN humanitarian agency keeping civilians in harms way in war zone, and those who back the islamists in PLO should be charged for war crime for aiding Hamas shoot at civilians in Israel, shoot at Israel from civilian population areas so as to draw fire to them, as well as fire at Israel during cease fire to kill in cold blood and disrupt the cease fire. In spite of this, Hamas is still going to bloody this new truce; it's a matter of time before its patience runs out.

Unfortunately Benjamin Netanyahu capitulated in subjection to Hamas demand, that's a big shame. If this peace is not taken when it's presented itself, it will forever remain elusive, and God forbid, when Hamas will rise again, it will have improved in its tunnel technology to present a surprise Israel may not be quick enough to recover from. I warn Israel not to agree a truce without total disarmament of Gaza.
In Response

by: Marc.Curie from: USA
August 05, 2014 7:17 PM
The only military in Palestine is the IDF. So the only way to demilitarize Palestine is to disband the IDF.
In Response

by: Jon from: USA
August 05, 2014 5:43 PM
As long as outside powers keep intervening the war will continue to go on, starting and stopping until doomsday.
In Response

by: voice for logic from: Europe
August 05, 2014 1:45 PM
So you would have no objection if the United Nations re-designated America and gave it to the Indians. Meaning all you have worked for is lost and given [against your wishes and without precedence] to the Indians.

At least it was without precedence before 1948 when Palestine was forced to accept Israel.
In Response

by: Thom H from: USA
August 05, 2014 1:42 PM
How about a Palestinian nation? Or do they have to live under the thumb of Israel for another sixty years?

by: betsy from: united states
August 05, 2014 11:47 AM
25% of the 3000 rockets Hamas fired toward Israel, fell back into Gaza. Israeli troops sacrifice Jewish lives by trying to save gaza lives. They could bomb from the air and wipe out the entire population, easily. Who are the Palestinians? A non-nation that didn't exist b4 1964. Israel belongs to the Jewish people. It was a wasteland until the Jews returned and made the desert bloom, just as the Bible prophesied
In Response

by: Eddie from: United States
August 05, 2014 6:30 PM
What a disgusting rationale!!! Did you learn that from your israeli- nazi textbooks or did you bother to do some historical research. Palestinians have always lived and will continue to live on Palestinian land, as they are the indiginous peoples and the TRUE owners of the land. If you'd like to actually learn something and possibly enlighten yourself in the process please visit this HISTORICALLY ACCURATE website as a one stop shop for all your Palestinian israeli conflict information.


by: Darrell Brady from: United Kingdom
August 05, 2014 11:44 AM
It's very clear now that Israel is operating to terrorize Gazans into leaving the territory

by: james from: colorado.o
August 05, 2014 11:33 AM
No one seems to think a bout games digging tunnels and caring out tero attacks out on Israel or how games is using public schools and shelters and people as shields! Hamas is a terrorist faction that's all. Issupport isreil all the way may god bless them and god bless america!
In Response

by: Eddie from: United States
August 05, 2014 6:37 PM
Let me steal your land, kill your children, and lock whats left of you and your family between a concrete barrier and the sea. Let me decide how many calories your allowed to ingest daily, and once you're malnourished child, takes your hand and looks into your eyes just to tell you that she's hungry, then you can tell me how far you would swim, how high you'd climb, and how deep you would dig to never ever have to feel that way again. Thank god we don't have to endure one moment of the hardships that palestinians have to. Thank god every minute of every day

by: AJHK from: INDIA
August 05, 2014 11:31 AM

by: Umkondo
August 05, 2014 11:30 AM
I'm going to guess Hamas will think long and hard before kidnapping and killing Israeli teenagers in future.
In Response

by: Umkondo
August 05, 2014 1:30 PM
What "Palestinian territory" are you referring to? Gaza was Egyptian until Egypt invaded Israel and it was defeated. There is no legitimate Palestinian state. The "Palestinians" (until mid 20th century the word applied to Jews) want to apply ethnic and religious apartheid to create a separate state. Palestinians also want the elimination of Israel.
I guess they'll have to think again.
In Response

by: h
August 05, 2014 12:11 PM
When did that happen? 3 kids were kidnapped and killed, yes. But by hamas, that has been disproven. But what about the blue ribbon investgation into israeli solders shooting 2 unarmed protesting youth just a couple weeks earlier. What should happen there?
In Response

by: hues10 from: Houston, Tx.
August 05, 2014 12:05 PM
Hamas was not responsible for kidnapping and killing those Israeli teenagers. Those deaths were used as a pretext by Israel to rearrest numerous Palestinians who were released in exchange for Shalit and for Israel to try to destroy the unity government between Hamas and the PA. Israel wants to keep on expanding its borders into Palestinian territory and cannot do that if a peace agreement is signed which will define borders.

by: SriPeace from: Canada
August 05, 2014 11:24 AM
Animal instinct helps few of us to learn and develop. Eye for an eye is an interesting disaster learning concept practiced historically. If war is for survival and to achieve peace at the end, why not Jordon, Syria, and Egypt come forward to support the Palestinian cause? From the days of Ottoman Syria/ Jewish settlement, Mighty forces (Qatar, US, UK) with vested interests attempted to seemingly solve this issue since then. If Gaza is an open air prison, then why not Sunni muslims take over the development of Gaza instead of targetting Israel? 'war crimes' seems to be an oxymoron; war itself is a criminal ground.
In Response

by: voice for logic from: Europe
August 05, 2014 1:54 PM
Who committed the greatest crime that started all the problems ? The United Nations in 1948, when they forced Israel onto the map. Claiming they were returning the Jews to the land that the Jews claim they were driven from by the Romans some 2000 years previously. Where is the legal precedence for such an act ? Should the UN clear America and return it to the Indians and Australia back to the Aborigines. All without any compensation ?

by: onefeather from: USA
August 05, 2014 11:04 AM
Hamas probably will start digging tunnels again you can't trust a terrorist. I hope Israel will listen to their self and not the pressure from this country as this government seems to take up for the terrorist. Israel should protect their self.

by: columbare1 from: united states
August 05, 2014 10:30 AM
The Palestinians did they pull back THEIR TANKS too ?
In Response

by: hues10 from: Houston, Tx.
August 05, 2014 11:27 AM
The Palestinian refugees from Israel don't have any tanks, nor battleships nor F-16s. They only have bombed out refugee camps and the legal right to return to Israel.

The Jewish state does not want to allow these refugee Arabs their citizenship rights nor the right to live, apparently.

by: meanbill from: USA
August 05, 2014 10:15 AM
DID Israel military with over 50,000 troops, really need to bombard Gaza, (from a safe distance), with every weapon they had, to indiscriminately kill or wound all those thousands of innocent Palestinian men, women, children and babies, just to blowup (32) Hamas tunnels?.... And did that same Israeli military with over 50,000 troops need to indiscriminately bombard the Palestinians with every weapon they had, to destroy a third of the buildings in Gaza, just to blowup (32) Hamas tunnels?..

Who's really at fault for all the destruction and innocents killed and wounded in Gaza, (is it Israel), or the US, EU, and NATO countries?..... Would the Israeli's had done it, (if they themselves), had to pay for all those weapons, bullets, missiles, rockets and bombs they used, to blowup those (32) Hamas tunnels?..... I don't think so, do you?
In Response

by: voice for logic from: Europe
August 05, 2014 2:06 PM
Having read the responses I do not think they are aware that it is the United Nations who are to blame. The UN in 1948 drew a line on a map and called it Israel on the basis that they were returning the Jews to the land that 2000 years preciously the Jews claim the Romans drove them from. Where was the legal precedence for such an act ? Taking that as a precedence then we can redraw the map of America and Canada, clear it without compensation and give it to the Indians. Or Australia being given back to the Aborigines. Would you sit back and say help yourselves ? No, there would be civil war. And who gave Israel all the weapons and financial backing ? America.
In Response

by: Fidel Guzman from: Canada
August 05, 2014 12:44 PM
If you slap me with an open hand I could punch you with a fist or kick you and brake your ribs, it is moronic to expect that Israel will fire rockets wildly onto Gaza, they have the duty to protect their citizens first and Palestinians civilians second, no Palestinians innocent, since they know what Hamas is up to and they support and elect it. The love you get is equal to the love you gave.
In Response

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
August 05, 2014 12:14 PM
I think Israel should have done more if they had the option but for the restriction imposed by the US, EU, NATO and all those agencies which do not see the wellbeing of Israel as priority here. But for these agencies, Israel should have leveled Gaza and rebuilt it to Israel's taste. But Gaza should be emptied out and the people relocated. Israel is failing its fans by stopping the campaign halfway.
In Response

by: True from: World
August 05, 2014 11:39 AM
Get real loser long live Israel !!!!! :) :) :) :)
In Response

by: william from: omaha
August 05, 2014 11:08 AM
Yea isreal did what it had to do to protect its people an their state. Gaza shpt rockets over in to isreal an wht if isreal didnt have an iron dome or any defence innocent people whould have been kill then what would everybody had to say bout that if gaza was incontrol they started it an isreal should finish it. Thats what wrong wit middleeastern extreamis over there they want you to to die if you dont believe in their religion fate theirs only 1 god he have many different names nomatter wht u call him theres only one god am we as a human race need to understand that.
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