Egypt stepping up efforts to reach ceasefire

A number of sources close to ceasefire efforts between Israel and Gaza tell The Times of Israel that Egypt has increased efforts to broker an end to the fighting, but large gaps remain between the sides.

Since Friday at least, Israel’s demand for a ceasefire has been a return to the understandings reached at the end of the last major round of fighting in 2012. Jerusalem is also demanding that Gaza give up its stockpile of rockets and dismantle any tunnels between the Strip and Israel.

Hamas, meanwhile, is demanding that Israel free 56 operatives arrested last month during the West Bank crackdown on the group following the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teens. The 56 were previously freed by Israel as part of the Shalit swap in 2011, and Hamas says they have not returned to terror, as per the agreement for their release.

The group is also demanding that the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt be opened, and that money to pay the salaries of 40,000 Hamas civil servants be transferred.

The wages, which have been kept from the workers for weeks, has become a major sticking point in Gaza since the creation of a unity government between Hamas and Fatah.

— Avi Issacharoff

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