Ceasefire holds firm as talks continue in Cairo
Israeli troops embrace at a staging post in Southern Israel near the border with Gaza, as Israeli forces prepare to clear the area on August 06, 2014 (Photo: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
The latest truce between Israel and Hamas is still in place as negotiators gather in Cairo for permanent ceasefire talks.
The 72-hour pause in the fighting began when Israel unilaterally withdrew its ground forces, initiating a process of de-escalation.
Minutes before the truce began, which came into effect on Tuesday at 6am UK time, Hamas launched a number of rockets against Israel in a revenge attack for what it called Israeli “massacres”.
One missile reached as far as Jerusalem but was intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome system, while another hit a house near Bethlehem. No casualties were reported.
Egypt is playing a key role in brokering a long-term deal between the two sides. The Egyptian head of intelligence first spoke to negotiators from Israel before meeting a Palestinian delegation made up of representatives from President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
It is thought that the Palestinians will ask for an end to Israeli border restrictions, with the opening up of more crossings for the transport of people and goods.
Some diplomats also say that the Palestinians will use the threat of joining the International Criminal Court (ICC) – which would allow them to start war crimes investigations against Israel - as a bargaining chip in the talks.
Israel, on the other hand, will try to ensure the demilitarisation of the Gaza Strip to prevent the danger posed by Hamas’s tunnels and rockets.