Israel and Hamas to Consider Cease-Fire in Gaza

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from The New York Times,

Both the Israeli government and leaders of Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, said late Monday that they would consider a plan for a cease-fire put forward by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry.

The developments came as international calls mounted for a truce in the hostilities that erupted a week ago between Hamas and Israel. Officials in the region and the Egyptian state media said that Secretary of State John Kerry was expected to arrive in Cairo on Tuesday.

Israeli officials said the country’s security cabinet would meet early on Tuesday to study the Egyptian proposal, which calls for a swift halt to attacks by both sides, followed by a 48-hour cooling-off period and then talks aimed at a more lasting truce. The Egyptian government, which is not friendly to Hamas, presented the plan to Arab League foreign ministers at a meeting Monday evening.

There was little letup in the hostilities on Monday. Israel continued its air offensive against militant groups in Gaza and rockets continued to fly out of Gaza into Israel. One rocket struck a Bedouin encampment in the Negev desert and injured two sisters ages 15 and 10, according to the Israeli police, who said one of the girls’ injuries were severe.

The death toll in Gaza from Israeli airstrikes continued to mount. Pierre Krähenbühl, the commissioner general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Gaza, which assists Palestinian refugees, said in a news briefing that he was “deeply alarmed and affected by the escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip and the devastating human and physical toll it is taking on civilians, including Palestine refugees.”

He put the toll at about 180 killed and more than 1,100 wounded, saying it appeared that “women and children make up a sizable number of victims of the current strikes.”

Israeli troops are massed at the border with Gaza, awaiting a government decision about whether to mount a ground operation, which would probably cause significantly more casualties.

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