Cease-fire extension between Israel and Hamas holds despite violence

Israel and Hamas agreed to a five-day extension of the cease-fire in order to give negotiators time to reach a lasting truce.
By Aileen Graef   |   Aug. 14, 2014 at 12:09 PM   |   Comments

CAIRO, Aug. 14 (UPI) -- A five-day cease-fire has taken hold between Israel and Hamas despite the exchange of rocket fire Wednesday night.

The announcement came Wednesday night from Cairo where negotiations have been taking place. The five-day truce will allow the talks to continue with hopes of reaching an agreement that would bring permanent peace.

"We agree on most of the points, some of the details, a point here and there. Some related to security and some and some to construction and lifting of the embargo. We do not wish to go into anymore details," said Azzam al-Ahmed, the Palestinian negotiator, just before the last 72-hour truce ended.

Shortly after previous cease-fire lapsed and before the new one began, Hamas reportedly fired a rocket that fell near the Israeli city of Ashkelon. Hamas denied involvement in the attack, but Israel responded with launching missiles at "terror targets."

The exchange stopped early Tuesday morning. Israel said the attack exemplifies Hamas' lack of willingness to negotiate.

"All along, we have been ready for an unconditional extension of the cease-fire. The problem has been Hamas -- they are the wild card. they have violated or rejected ten specific cease-fires and we saw that again last night," said Mark Regev, the spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The U.S. and the U.N. have pushed for the two parties to negotiate a lasting peace agreement and address the humanitarian concerns in Gaza.

"The president reaffirmed the United States' support for Egypt's mediation efforts and underscored the importance of achieving a sustainable outcome that ensures Israel's security and addresses Gaza's humanitarian crisis," the White House wrote in a statement.

According to Israeli media reports, the negotiations would allow Gazans to have an expanded fishing shore in the Mediterranean, allow for more access to Israel and the West Bank, and would increase the number of shipment trucks into Gaza. It would also transfer cash for the salaries of the Hamas-run government. Israel refused to discuss putting a seaport or airport in Gaza.

In exchange, Israel requires the full disarmament of Gaza and tighter security on shipments coming into Gaza so it can prevent any weapons or tools to reconstruct the tunnels.

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