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Tuesday 17 October 2017

Hope for truce as Israel agrees to 12-hour pause

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told US Secretary of State John Kerry that Israel would begin a 12-hour pause in Gaza hostilities starting this morning at 5am Irish time.

Israel had earlier rejected international proposals for a ceasefire in its fight against Islamist militants.

However, it is discussing changes to the truce plan with the US, a government source said.

Kerry said the search for a full truce to end the Gaza conflict will extend into the weekend.

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Speaking yesterday at a press conference in Cairo, he said that mediators want the initial humanitarian pause to be a "down payment" on a week-long truce for the Islamic Eid festival, an idea he said hasn't been made final.

The conflict between Israel and Hamas has left more than 860 Palestinians and 35 Israeli soldiers dead since it escalated on July 8. Protests spread through the West Bank yesterday, and several Palestinian demonstrators were killed in clashes with Israeli security forces.

Channel 2 and other Israeli media said earlier that ministers at a security cabinet meeting weren't satisfied with the latest shape of John Kerry's broader plan.

Palestinian officials have said they're planning to take charges of Israeli war crimes to the International Criminal Court. The UN Human Rights Council this week voted to probe possible Israeli war crimes, with only the US voting against. Israel criticised the move.

Some of the biggest protests in years broke out late yesterday in the West Bank, ruled by the Palestinian Fatah group that recently reconciled with Hamas after a seven-year rift.

Palestinian officials said at least six protesters have been killed in clashes with security forces in Hebron, Nablus and the Qalandia checkpoint with tires burned and rocks hurled at border guards, according to Israeli news service Ynet. Israeli police have confirmed one death.

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The conflict deepened last week when the Israeli military added to its air bombardment by sending troops into the territory. Israeli financial markets have been mostly unaffected, with the benchmark stock index little changed since fighting escalated on July 8.

Fighting in Gaza continued alongside truce efforts. Israeli airstrikes hit more than 80 sites in Gaza, while militants in the tiny Mediterranean strip fired 50 rockets at Israel, the army said. Among the sites hit in Gaza were 30 homes, including that of a leader of the Islamic Jihad group who was killed along with his sons, Palestinian officials said.

hnews@herald.ie

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