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Cross-border attacks threaten Gaza peace efforts

By Reuters in Gaza and Jerusalem | China Daily | Updated: 2014-08-11 06:57

Israeli airstrikes and shelling killed three Palestinians in Gaza on Sunday, medics said, in a third day of renewed fighting that has jeopardized international efforts to achieve a lasting cease-fire in the conflict.

Palestinians kept up rocket and mortar fire that, since the last truce expired on Friday, has focused on kibbutzim, or collective farms, just across the border in what appeared to be a strategy of sapping Israel's morale without triggering another ground invasion of the tiny Gaza Strip.

The violence has become less intense than at the war's outset, down from more than 100 rocket salvos a day including at major cities like Tel Aviv, which have not come under attack since Israel withdrew ground troops from Gaza on Tuesday.

Hamas, Gaza's dominant Islamist movement, and Israel were remained far apart on terms for any enduring halt to hostilities, with their rejection of each other's legitimacy among the biggest obstacles.

Israel refused to send back officials to Egyptian-brokered talks in Cairo as long as militant attacks continued. The leader of the Palestinian delegation, which represents Hamas as well as the party of President Mahmoud Abbas, threatened on Saturday to quit the talks unless Israel reversed that stance.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said he saw "very slim" chances of success in renewing last week's 72-hour cease-fire.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Cabinet was to address the crisis in its weekly session later on Sunday.

"We are at a crossroads, and within two or three days we will see whether we are heading left toward an agreement, or right, toward escalation," Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, a close ally of Netanyahu, told Channel 10 television on Saturday.

Airstrikes and shelling killed three Palestinians, including a 14-year-old boy and a woman, raising the mostly civilian death toll given by Palestinian hospital officials to 1,893 since the July 8 launch of Israel's offensive to quell rocket fire out of the densely populated coastal territory.

Israel has lost 64 soldiers and three civilians to the war, whose toll on noncombatants in impoverished Gaza has drawn international alarm and condemnation.


Cross-border attacks threaten Gaza peace efforts

A child paints toys to welcome Gazan children in Caracas, Venezuela, on Saturday. As violence rages on in the Gaza Strip, Venezuelan craftspeople gathered on Saturday in Caracas to fashion handmade toys for Gazan children. Jorge Silva / Reuters


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