Gaza truce on the table with pains
AFP PhotoAs the Palestinian death toll rose over 100 in a week of fighting, conflicting statements about a cease-fire came from Israel and Hamas while diplomats are pushing to bring an end to the strikes.
“An agreement for calm has been reached. It will be declared at 9 o’clock (1900 GMT) and go into effect at midnight (2200 GMT),” Hamas official Ayman Taha told Reuters from Cairo, where efforts have been under way to end seven days of hostilities. “An agreement on the cease-fire has been reached, and it will be valid as of midnight,” Ahmet Davutoğlu was quoted as saying by Anatolia news agency.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was heading to the region from Asia and was expected in Jerusalem late yesterday for talks with Netanyahu today. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday Israel would be a “willing partner” in a cease-fire with Hamas at a meeting with U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon. Netanyahu said that “if a long-term solution can be put in place by diplomatic means, Israel will be a willing partner.”
Israel launched the offensive last week to end months of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. Ban has condemned the rocket attacks but urged Israel to show “maximum restraint.” He also has offered his services to help broker a truce. “But if stronger military action proves necessary to stop the constant barrage of rockets, Israel will not necessary to do what is necessary to defend our people,” said Netanyahu, who is favored to win a January general election.
Earlier, Egypt’s state media quoted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi as announcing “that the farce of Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip will end on Tuesday.” Morsi said, according to the reports, that “efforts to conclude a truce between the Palestinian and Israeli sides will produce positive results in the next few hours.” Medical officials in Gaza said 126 Palestinians have died in a week of fighting, the majority of them civilians, including 27 children.
Two cameramen from Hamas-owned Al-Aqsa TV were among six people killed in a series of Israeli air raids on Gaza City and the north, raising Tuesday’s death toll to 20, a Hamas spokesman said.
Israel dropped leaflets ordering Gaza residents to evacuate immediately. “For your own safety, you are required to immediately evacuate your homes and move toward the Gaza City center,” the leaflet said. Arab countries meanwhile ratcheted up pressure on Israel by sending a delegation of foreign ministers headed by Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi to Gaza earlier yesterday.
Turkey contacts Israel for truce
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Ankara has stepped up contacts with Israel in order to try to achieve a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel. “Turkey is determined to keep channels open with all parties, directly and indirectly, if it can protect every single brother from Gaza … There are views that have been delivered from Israel to us,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told reporters yesterday before departing for Cairo. He crossed from the Egyptian capital into Gaza with a delegation of foreign ministers from a number of Arab countries, seeking to show support for the Palestinians. In Gaza, Davutoğlu said Turkey’s solidarity with Gaza would continue under all circumstances. He also called on the international community to take action. Davutoğlu also said Israel must remove its embargo on Gaza. A Turkish Foreign Ministry official confirmed that contact had been made with the Israeli authorities. Turkey has abstained from talks with Israel since 2011, since the killing of nine Turks by Israeli soldiers on board the Mavi Marmara ship.
Undersecretary of Turkey’s Intelligence Organization (MİT) Hakan Fidan and deputy chairman of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) Ömer Çelik are conducting contacts with relevant parties for a truce. “Our aim is to provide a sustainable truce in Gaza,” Davutoğlu said, adding that they were working on the technicalities of truce.