CAIRO: An Israeli delegation of ranking officials arrived in Cairo Monday morning after agreeing to Egypt’s 72-hour ceasefire proposal which began Sunday midnight, Israeli YNet reported.
Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat arrived in Cairo late Sunday from Jordan in a short visit that would last for two days, seeking a permanent ceasefire agreement, MENA reported.
Erakat will meet with Secretary-General of the Arab League Nabil al-Araby and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry to consider the latest developments in Gaza and reaching permanent ceasefire.
Both Israel and Palestinian factions have agreed upon the Egyptian proposals. This comes after the Palestinian delegation’s meeting, which is currently in Cairo since Aug. 2, with head of the Egyptian intelligence body Mohamed Farid el-Tohamy Sunday morning.
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry released a statement Sunday calling for both Israel and Palestine to adhere to its ceasefire proposal, allow cross-border humanitarian aid deliveries, and resume indirect negotiations to reach permanent and comprehensive ceasefire.
However, five minutes before the truce came into effect, Al-Qassam brigades – Hamas military wing – announced shelling Tel Aviv and some Israeli cities with long-range rockets. As a result, five Palestinians were killed in Israel’s response with airstrikes and ten bodies were recovered in the Gaza Strip, BBC Arabic reported.
Egypt brokered a similar truce this week that ended on Friday but both sides continued attacking the other for three days. Israel launched around 50 airstrikes on Gaza Saturday, killing eight Palestinians, and about 32 Palestinian rockets were fired at Israel at the same period.
Egypt is currently brokering indirect negotiations for a cease-fire between the Palestinian factions and Israel.
Before their meeting with Tohamy, the Palestinian delegation threatened to end talks unless the Israeli delegation agreed to the Egyptian mediation negotiations, according to senior delegation member Moussa Abu Marzouk, Reuters reported Saturday.
However, Marzouk said the decision whether to leave Cairo would be determined after meeting with Egyptian mediators early Sunday. After the meeting, they agreed but confirming the presence of the Israeli delegation in Cairo.
An Israeli delegation left Cairo on Friday after a short nine-hour visit including high ranking officials. They returned Monday morning after the ceasefire agreement was maintained.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indirectly refused the current negotiations at the Israeli weekly cabinet meeting Sunday and said that Israel would not negotiate while Hamas rockets are still being fired at Israeli cities, Jerusalem Post reported.
“Israel will continue to act in all ways to change the current reality, to bring peace to all its citizens,” Netanyahu said.
Since the beginning of the ongoing Israeli campaign in Gaza on July 8, 1,940 Palestinians have been killed and tens of thousands wounded, while 63 Israelis, mostly soldiers, have been killed, according to latest BBC Arabic reports.
For permanent truce, Palestinian factions demanded the end of Israeli blockade on Gaza, opening of Rafah border crossing, and expansion of permitted fishing areas; Israel demanded the disarmament of Palestinian factions.