BREAKING: Egypt cancels Gaza talks, Israel ends 72-hour truce -- source

Friday 01-08-2014 02:53 PM
BREAKING: Egypt cancels Gaza talks, Israel ends 72-hour truce -- source

A Palestinian woman wearing a mask holds her son as she stands outside her house which police said was damaged in an Israeli air strike on a neighbouring house in Gaza City July 8, 2014. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Egypt decided on Friday to cancel its hosting of ceasefire talks over the ongoing Gaza war, a Palestinian source -- who was expected to attend the negotiations -- told Ahram Online.

The source, who preferred to remain anonymous, added that Israel had also ended the 72-hour ceasefire that started early on Friday.

"The Egyptians contacted Islamic Jihad and said Israel told them that a soldier has been captured," Ziad Al-Nakhala, Islamic Jihad's deputy leader, told AFP. "The talks have been postponed."

Egypt's foreign ministry had announced earlier on Friday that Israel and the Palestinian Authority would send delegates to Cairo for truce talks after both sides agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire in Gaza.

"Egypt emphasises the importance of both sides committing to the ceasefire so the negotiations can take place in a favourable atmosphere," the Egyptian foreign ministry said in a statement.

Palestinian sources had told Ahram Online that the PLO would be represented by Azzam Al-Ahmed, Maged Farag (Fatah); Maher Taher (The Popular Front); Kees Abdel Karem (Democratic Front) and Basem Al-Salhi (People's Party).

Five leading figures would have represented Hamas, including Moussa Abu Marzouq, Emad Al-Alami, Khalel Al-Hayah, Ezzat Al-Rasheq and Mohamed Nasr.

Ziad Al-Nakhala and Khaled Al-Batch would have represented Islamic Jihad.

The death toll from the Israeli offensive in Gaza has reached over 1450 Palestinians, with 5,000 homes destroyed and around a quarter of a million civilians displaced.

The enclave's infrastructure, including its power and water supply, has also been damaged in the violence.

The temporary ceasefire, announced in a joint US-UN declaration, started at 0500 GMT on Friday. The ceasefire was a compromise after Hamas rejected an Egyptian initiative earlier in July for a durable truce followed by talks.

The Islamist movement had demanded guarantees that Israel would end its eight-year blockade of Gaza before it agreed to a cessation of violence.

On Friday -- despite the ceasefire -- clashes between Palestinian factions and Israel's military troops took place in Gaza. Israeli artillery shells and airstrikes hit a number of sites in the strip.

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