News / Middle East

    Israelis, Palestinians Begin New Talks to End Gaza Conflict

    • A Palestinian boy holds an umbrella as he rests in front of the damaged Nada Towers residential neighborhood in the town of Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, Aug. 11, 2014.
    • A Palestinian in front of the remains of a mosque that was destroyed in an Israeli air strike before the latest 72-hour truce, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, Aug. 11, 2014.
    • A Palestinian boy stands next to a donkey cart loaded with salvaged belongings from his family's destroyed house in the town of Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, Monday, Aug. 11, 2014.
    • Palestinians returning to their house during a 72-hour truce in Beit Hanoun town, which was heavily hit by Israeli shelling and air strikes during the Israeli offensive, in the northern Gaza Strip, Aug. 11, 2014.
    • A man and a woman share a makeshift shelter in Beit Hanoun town, Aug. 11, 2014.
    • Two women stand in the doorway of the damaged house they returned to it during a 72-hour truce in Beit Hanoun town, in the northern Gaza Strip, Aug. 11, 2014.
    • Palestinians youths fetch water from a container after returning to their damaged home in the Beit Hanoun area during a 72-hour ceasefire, Gaza City, Aug. 11, 2014
    • Fishermen return to sea during a 72-hour ceasefire, Gaza City, Aug. 11, 2014.
    • Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby, right, meets with chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Aug. 11, 2014.
    Reuters

    Israeli and Palestinian negotiators resumed indirect talks mediated by Egypt on Monday on ending a month-old Gaza war, Egypt's state news agency said, after a new 72-hour truce appeared to be holding.

    The Israeli military said one rocket was launched at the Tel Aviv area, in Israel's commercial heartland, before the cease-fire began at 2100 GMT on Sunday and may have landed in the sea. Gaza's dominant Hamas group said it fired the missile.

    A senior Israeli government official had said on Sunday Israeli negotiators, who had left Cairo on Friday hours before a previous three-day cease-fire expired, would return to Egypt to resume the talks only if the new truce held.

    Hamas is demanding an end to Israeli and Egyptian blockades of the Gaza Strip and the opening of a seaport in the enclave - a project Israel says should be dealt with only in any future talks on a permanent peace deal with the Palestinians.

    A month of war has killed 1,938 Palestinians and 67 Israelis while devastating wide tracts of densely populated Gaza, and Egypt's Foreign Ministry has urged both sides to work towards “a comprehensive and lasting cease-fire agreement.”

    Gaza hospital officials say the Palestinian death toll has been mainly civilian since the July 8 launch of Israel's military campaign to quell Gaza rocket fire.

    Israel has lost 64 soldiers and three civilians, while heavy losses among civilians and the destruction of thousands of homes in Gaza have drawn international condemnation.

    Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the new negotiations would be “the last chance” for an agreement. Israeli representatives are not meeting face-to-face with the Palestinian delegation because it includes Hamas, which Israel regards as a terrorist organization.

    Long-term truce

    Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said in a radio interview on Monday that disarming Gaza militants was crucial to sustain a long-term truce and he hoped this could be done by diplomacy rather than force.

    “I certainly hope that there will be a diplomatic solution. If there will not be a diplomatic solution, I am convinced that sooner or later we will have to opt for a military solution of taking temporary control of Gaza to demilitarize it again,” he told Israel Radio.

    Another sticking point in the Cairo talks has been Israel's demand for guarantees that Hamas would not use any reconstruction supplies sent to Gaza to build tunnels of the sort Palestinian fighters have used to infiltrate Israel.

    Hamas has demanded an end to the economically stifling blockade of the enclave imposed by both Israel and Egypt, which also sees the Islamist movement as a security threat.

    Israel has resisted easing access to Gaza, suspecting Hamas could then restock with weapons from abroad.

    According to the United Nations, at least 425,000 displaced people in the Gaza Strip are in emergency shelters or staying with host families. Nearly 12,000 homes have been destroyed or severely damaged by Israeli attacks.

    In Gaza, shops began to open and traffic was normal as some displaced families returned to the homes they had been forced to abandon during Israeli attacks, expressing hopes that this truce would last after a series of failed cease-fires.

    “God knows if it is permanent,” said Abu Salama, a resident of Gaza's Shejaia district, as he and his family headed home on a donkey cart. “A truce, no truce, it is becoming like Tom and Jerry. We want a solution,” he said.

    Targeting ‘terror squads’

    The new three-day truce won praise from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who hoped it might lead to a durable cease-fire.

    Israeli airstrikes and shelling on Sunday killed nine Palestinians in Gaza, medics said, in a third day of renewed fighting since the last truce ended.

    One airstrike destroyed the home of Gaza City's mayor, Nezar Hijazi, across the street from the Reuters bureau where reporters and cameramen took cover as the explosion occurred. There were no casualties in the attack because Israel telephoned warnings to residents in the house and neighboring buildings.

    The Israeli military said it targeted 11 “terror squads” in Gaza, among them gunmen involved in or preparing to fire rockets.

    Since the previous cease-fire expired, Palestinian rocket and mortar salvoes have focused on Israeli towns and communities near the Gaza frontier in what seemed a strategy of sapping morale without triggering another ground invasion of Gaza.

    Residents of those communities, who had been assured by the military they could return home when last week's truce began, have accused Israeli authorities of misleading them.

    Israeli tanks and infantry left the enclave on Tuesday after the army said it had completed its main mission of destroying more than 30 tunnels dug by militants for cross-border attacks.

    Four wounded Palestinians were flown into Ankara for medical treatment on Monday, the first sign of Turkey's promised plan to evacuate thousands from the Gaza Strip.

    A Turkish aid group said it would send ships again to challenge the Israeli blockade of Gaza, four years after Israeli commandos stormed its flotilla bound for the Palestinian territory and killed 10 people in fighting with activists on board.

    You May Like

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.