CAIRO — Egypt on Saturday called for an open-ended truce in the Gaza Strip, urging the Palestinians and Israel to return to indirect talks.
The call from the foreign ministry came shortly after Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in Cairo. Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev had no immediate comment on the Egyptian call.
Also Saturday, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon about the ongoing operation in Gaza, and told him that Hamas is committing war crimes and using civilians as human shields.
“The world saw yesterday [when Hamas killed 18 suspected “collaborators” with Israel] that Hamas, like the Islamic State, carries out mass public executions. In addition, Hamas, like the Islamic State, it persecutes and oppresses minorities,” Netanyahu said.
“The ideology of these two groups calls for Islamic caliphates and both use the same murderous methods — Hamas is the Islamic State, the Islamic State is Hamas,” he added.
A temporary Israel-Hamas truce collapsed on Tuesday, when Hamas breached the quiet and restarted rocket fire on Israel, bringing the Egyptian-brokered talks to a halt. More than 2,000 Palestinians have been killed since the Gaza war began on July 8, Palestinian officials say. Israel says 750-1,000 of the dead are Hamas and other gunmen, and blames Hamas for all Gaza civilian casualties fatalities, since Hamas set up its rocket-launchers, tunnel openings and other elements of its war machine in Gaza neighborhoods and uses Gazans as “human shields.”
Sixty-eight people have died on the Israeli side: 64 soldiers and 4 civilians, the latest a four-year-old boy killed by mortar fire on Friday.
Hamas and other terror groups have fired over 3,800 rockets at Israel in the past 46 days, including some 600 from close to schools, mosques and other civilian facilities, the Israeli army says.
In the past seven weeks, more than 2,090 Palestinians have been killed, including close to 500 children, and about 100,000 Gazans have been left homeless, according to United Nations figures and Palestinian officials. Israel lost 64 soldiers and four civilians, including a 4-year-old boy killed by a mortar shell Friday.
On Saturday, an airstrike on a house in central Gaza killed two women, two children and a man, according to medics at the Red Crescent. Six strikes also hit a house in the Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza, causing severe damage and wounding at least five people, Gaza police said.
The IDF dropped pamphlets in Gaza warning that it would “act with full force against any military or civilian installation from which terrorist activity is directed at the State of Israel. Any house from which military action originates will be attacked and hit. For your own safety, prevent terror operatives from using your property for terrorist purposes and stay away from any place used by terror operatives.”