A 72-hour cease-fire agreed upon by Israel and Hamas took effect at midnight on Monday. Prior to the commencement of the cease-fire, officials said an Israeli delegation would travel to Cairo to continue indirect negotiations for a more permanent truce with Palestinian factions if the cease-fire was fully observed. Israel had previously announced it would not negotiate under fire.
The head of the Palestinian delegation, Azzam Ahmed, said Sunday that unless Israel agreed to return to Egyptian-mediated talks without pre-conditions, the delegation would leave Cairo.
Israel struck more than 25 targets in the Gaza Strip on Sunday and some 60 the day before. Rocket fire from Gaza toward Israeli communities in the surrounding areas and cities as far north as Tel Aviv persisted until minutes before the cease-fire was to begin.
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Latest updates [Monday]:
10:40 P.M. Finance Minister Yair Lapid on Monday called on the international community to pull together a massive aid package for Gaza conditioned on the Palestinian Authority returning to power in place of the Islamic militant group Hamas.
In a phone interview with the Associated Press, the finance minister argued that Israeli-Palestinian negotiations currently being mediated by Egypt should lead to a reopening of the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza, with the Gaza side controlled by the Palestinian Authority instead of Hamas. As a next step, he said, Abbas should be in charge of any aid the world community donates to the rehabilitation of Gaza, he said.
"I think this is possible," Lapid said. "We have to remember that the PA was in charge of Gaza and is still the legal ruler of Gaza, and should be there instead of Hamas, which is a terror organization." The involvement of the international community and the Arab world was needed to put pressure on the militants, so "we think we should involve the Arab world into the process, and we should involve the entire international community."
"If they want to rebuild the place they live in, then they will have to accept," Lapid said of Hamas. (AP)
10:27 P.M. Two wounded Syrians treated at Ziv Hospital in Safed. 342 Syrian have been treated at that hospital so far. (Eli Ashkenazi)
7:35 P.M. U.S. lifts travel advisory for embassy employees in region just south of greater Tel Aviv. Travel restrictions remain in place in southern Israel, including Be'er Sheva, and trave; south of Ashdod remains completely off limits. (Haaretz)
7:30 P.M. The UN Human Rights Council has announced that its inquiry commission on alleged Israeli rights abuses in the Gaza strip will include prominent British-Lebanese human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin, who is the fiancé of actor George Clooney.
The two other members of the commission are Senegalese human rights expert Doudou Diene and William Schabas, a Canadian international law and human rights scholar. (Reuters)
7:06 P.M. Home Front Command issues guidelines for Tuesday, second day of cease-fire. Residents in south still forbidden of holding gatherings of more than 500 people. (Gili Cohen)
7 P.M. High Court rejects petitions to destroy the homes of the three Palestinian suspects behind the kidnapping of the three Israeli teens in the West Bank.
6:25 P.M. The political-security cabinet will meet Tuesday at noon at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem to discuss the negotiations in Cairo and the future arrangements in Gaza. (Barak Ravid)
3:45 P.M. A Turkish aid group says it would send ships again to challenge the Israeli blockade of Gaza, four years after Israeli commandos stormed its flotilla bound for the Palestinian territory and killed 10 people.
The incident wrecked diplomatic ties between Turkey and Israel. The Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) said in an e-mailed statement that members of a "coalition" of pro-Palestinian activists from 12 countries had met in Istanbul at the weekend and decided to launch a convoy "in the shadow of the latest Israeli aggression on Gaza," referring to the latest, month-long war.
An IHH spokeswoman did not elaborate. The group will hold a news conference on Tuesday, she said. (Reuters)
11:26 A.M. The Kerem Shalom crossing reopens for shipment of good to Gaza after being shut on Saturday due to gunfire. (Gili Cohen)
10:36 A.M. An Israeli delegation arrives in Cairo to continue negotiating a truce with Palestinian representatives. (Barak Ravid)
10:18 A.M. A senior UN aid official has warned that a new round of fighting in Gaza is likely unless Israel lifts the blockade on Gaza, AFP reports.
"The blockade must be lifted not only to get material into Gaza in order to rebuild it but to allow Gaza to do what it was doing very well just 10 years ago, to trade with the outside world," said James Rawley, the UN resident and humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories.
"Gaza has a tremendous potential. People are very entrepreneurial, they're well educated, they have markets abroad, in Israel and the West Bank. The blockade has to be lifted in order that Gaza can thrive," he told AFP.
10:03 A.M. Four wounded Palestinians from the Gaza Strip arrived in the Turkish capital early on Monday after being flown in for medical treatment, with more expected, in a move announced by prime minister and president-elect Tayyip Erdogan.
"Our wounded from Gaza have started to come," Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters at the airport in Ankara, where he greeted the Palestinians, three women and a youth who were then taken to hospital.
"In the first stage we plan to bring to Turkey, and treat, maybe 200 patients," Davutoglu said, adding that further patients would be brought by planes in groups of around 40 after agreeing the move in talks with Israel and Egypt.
Davutoglu told Reuters in an interview last Wednesday that Turkey was seeking to establish an air corridor to evacuate possibly thousands of injured Palestinians and Erdogan confirmed the move in his first speech after his victory in a presidential election. (Reuters)
8:10 A.M. A Palestinian gunman was killed in a standoff with Israeli forces at his home near Nablus, in the West Bank. The suspect began shooting toward an undercover border police unit that had arrived at the house, in the village of Qabalan, to arrest him. The officers responded by firing a missile toward the building. (Gili Cohen) Read full article
2:20 A.M. Israel Air Force troops killed Faraj Abu-Rabia, an operative in Hamas' tunnel division, just before the cease-fire took effect, the IDF spokesman says. (Gili Cohen)
12:02 A.M. Rocket hits open area in vicinity of Tel Aviv, minutes before cease-fire takes effect. (Haaretz)
11:48 P.M. Rocket sirens sound in Ashdod, Kiryat Malakhi, Be'er Sheva regions. (Haaretz)
11:26 P.M. Rocket alerts sound across Gaza-bordering regions. (Haaretz)
10:55 P.M. Rocket sirens sound in towns near Gaza border. (Haaretz)
10:26 P.M. Sources close to Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said on Sunday the he opposes the cease-fire with Hamas. "The cease-fire is a green light for Hamas to start shooting at us in 72 hours," they said, adding that "you don't need to negotiate with a terror organization like Hamas. You need to treat Hamas like an organization firing rockets at us." (Barak Ravid)
10:06 P.M. One rocket explodes in an open area in Ashdod, another rocket intercepted above the city.
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