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Israel pointman on Gaza in Egypt for truce talks

Israel pointman on Gaza in Egypt for truce talks

Israel's point-man on Gaza was in Cairo on Thursday for talks with Egyptian truce mediators on the "end game" of the Gaza offensive, the Israeli government spokesman said.
The development came as Israeli troops pushed deeper into the densely populated Gaza City on the 20th day of the offensive to rout out Hamas militants. Israeli tanks shelled the crowded downtown, sending terrified residents fleeing for cover.
Witnesses and U.N. officials said Israeli shells struck the United Nations headquarters building that serves as a shelter for hundreds of people, setting it ablaze.
The Israeli push ratcheted up pressure on Hamas to accept a proposed cease-fire. It also came as U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon was in Israel trying to promote a cease-fire.
Mark Regev said Israel wants a total end to Hamas' rocket launches into Israel, and an arms embargo on Gaza's militant rulers.
"There is momentum in these discussions," Regev told the Associated Press Television News. "We are hopeful that a deal will be based on a total cessation of Hamas fire into Israel and an arms embargo to prevent Hamas from rearming is close and attainable."
Regev said the Israeli envoy _ Amos Gilad, who flew to Egypt on a private plane _ will discuss the "parameters of the end game. He will not be meeting Hamas envoys who are also in town.
Gaza-based Hamas official Ghazi Hamad said the deeper incursion reflected "pressure" on his group.
"I think Israel is seeking in the last moments to escalate the military escalation to pressure the parties," Hamad told The Associated Press. "I don't think this will change the issues on the table."
Hamad said his group has offered amendments to Egypt's original peace proposal, and he expected the Egyptians will convey them to the Israelis. "Consultations are continuing," he said.
Meanwhile, Hamas deputy chief Moussa Abou Marzouk, who is based in Damascus, told Al-Arabiya television that Hamas demands an immediate cease-fire, to be followed by Israeli troop withdrawal and the opening of the border for humanitarian aid.
A long term truce is to be discussed later, Marzouk said, adding he expected "clear answers" from the Israelis through the Egyptians on Thursday.


Updated : 2021-03-01 06:57 GMT+08:00