News World Ceasefire reached in Gaza
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Ceasefire reached in Gaza

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The Israeli military and Hamas say they will observe a 12-hour ceasefire from 3pm EDT, but a longer-term truce remains elusive for now.

Hamas says that it and other militant groups in Gaza have reached “national consensus on a humanitarian truce” and Israel confirms that it will observe what it called “a humanitarian window in the Gaza Strip”.

A statement from the Hamas-run interior ministry in Gaza warned people not to approach bombed-out buildings and militant bases for fear of “explosive objects”.

Earlier, US Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking from Cairo, said that efforts to broker a longer halt to the fighting had so far yet to bear fruit.

He arrived in Paris on Saturday where France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius was to host a meeting later in the day of counterparts from the United States, Britain, Germany, Italy, Qatar, Turkey and the EU.

Violence, however continued in the early hours of Saturday, the conflict’s 19th day, with Israeli air strikes and shelling killing 15 people, among them four children and a paramedic, Gaza medical services said.

Kerry, who has been leading international efforts to reach a truce, said at a press conference in Cairo with UN chief Ban Ki-moon that both Israel and Hamas “still have some terminology” to agree to on a ceasefire, but added they had a “fundamental framework” on a truce.

But Israel’s Channel 1 TV reported late on Friday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet had “unanimously rejected” the Kerry proposal.

The United States has worked with Egypt on a plan that, diplomats say, would provide a pause in the deadly Israel-Hamas conflict ahead of talks on key issues.

The conflict, which began on July 8 when Israel launched an operation to stamp out rocket fire from Gaza and destroy Hamas tunnels, has claimed 879 Palestinian lives, most of them civilians, plus 35 Israeli soldiers, two Israeli civilians and a Thai migrant worker.

In a statement released by his office, Ban called for “an immediate, unconditional humanitarian pause in the fighting in Gaza and Israel”.

“This pause would last through the Eid al-Fitr holiday period,” Ban said, referring to the forthcoming Muslim festival, adding that a halt in the fighting could lead to a “longer-term ceasefire plan”.

His comments tracked reports from foreign and Palestinian officials of efforts to secure an initial week-long humanitarian ceasefire to be followed by negotiations on a longer-term cessation of hostilities.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu flew to Qatar on Friday to help efforts after Kerry reached out to Hamas allies Ankara and Doha to push for a ceasefire.

Under the proposal, once a humanitarian lull takes hold, delegations from Israel and Hamas would arrive in Cairo – which has mediated past conflicts between the two – for indirect talks that could lead to a lasting deal.

Senior Hamas official Izzat al-Rishq said late on Friday on his Facebook page the group was “studying” the idea.