GAZA CITY: Israeli warplanes pummelled Gaza with 50 air strikes that killed eight Palestinians yesterday as militants slammed 25 rockets into Israel amid mounting calls for a fresh ceasefire.
Britain, France and Germany urged Israel and Hamas to agree a truce at once.
“We call upon all parties immediately to return to a ceasefire. We fully support the ongoing efforts by Egypt to this end,” said a statement from foreign ministers Laurent Fabius of France, Philip Hammond of Britain and Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany.
A Palestinian official said indirect negotiations for a ceasefire were expected to resume in Cairo today with an Israeli delegation scheduled to arrive in the city, where a Palestinian team and Egyptian mediators are waiting.
But an Israeli official said talks could not take place until Palestinian rocket fire halted.
“The Egyptian initiative was based on two stages in a consecutive order. “First, unconditional ceasefire, and after implementation of it there would be discussions in Cairo. The first stage has still not been implemented.”
Gaza emergency services said eight men were killed in Israeli raids. The Palestinian interior ministry said Israeli jets destroyed three mosques. The army said 25 rockets rained on Israel, bringing to 63 the number of projectiles launched at the Jewish state since a 72-hour truce ended on Friday morning. Israel said it had carried out more than 100 strikes in Gaza since Friday morning, 49 of them yesterday. In the occupied West Bank, 15 Palestinian youth were injured in clashes with Israeli troops in the town of Hebron.
The conflict has killed at least 1,914 Palestinians and 67 on the Israeli side since July 8.
A Palestinian official said Egypt and the Palestinians had reached a draft agreement for submission to Israel. It would see Egypt and the Palestinian Authority (PA) take control of the Rafah border crossing into Egypt, essentially activating part of a unity accord Hamas signed with PA in April.
Negotiations on the sea port would be entrusted to PA, with whom Israel is prepared to deal.