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Israel sends delegation to Cairo for truce talks as cease-fire appears to hold
By JPOST.COM STAFF
08/05/2014
Tense quiet in South as Hamas appears to be honoring 72-hour cease-fire; Israeli delegation joins Palestinian factions in Cairo for long-term truce talks.
 
The 72-hour cease-fire which began Tuesday morning at 8 a.m. appeared to be holding Tuesday afternoon prompting Israel to send a negotiating team to Cairo for indirect talks with Palestinians factions aimed at reaching a long-term truce.

Israel had previously said that it would wait to see if Hamas honored the cease-fire before dispatching a delegation to take part in the talks that it had thus far avoided.

"The delegates left under an hour ago. I assume they've already arrived in Egypt," an Israeli official told Reuters on Tuesday afternoon.

A flurry of rockets was fired at the South, the Shfela region and areas outside of Jerusalem in the West Bank just prior to the onset of the cease-fire. One rocket hit a house near the Palestinian West Bank town of Bethlehem, police said and residents said.

Israeli ground forces completed their withdrawal from Gaza as the cease-fire went into effect on Tuesday morning.

Senior Israeli diplomatic officials said Israel was preparing for the possibility that Hamas would violate the cease-fire, as it has done in the past, and also cautioned the Israeli public to continue to be vigilant as Hamas could try to carry out a major attack for a final “victory picture” before the cease-fire goes into effect.

They stressed that the ceasefire was unconditional and pointed out that its acceptance came after Israel finished destroying the terror tunnels.

The Palestinian delegation, who is already in Cairo, presented their demands to the Egyptians late on Sunday. The demands called for an immediate cease-fire and a lifting of the siege on the Gaza Strip, in addition to the reopening of all border crossings. They also called for international assurances that Israel would refrain from launching military attacks, and for UN assistance in rebuilding the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinians also demanded an airport and seaport in addition to free passage between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Israeli officials dismissed this list of demands in recent days as “completely unrealistic.”

A 72-hour cease-fire brokered last week by US Secretary of State John Kerry and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon ended 90 minutes after it began, with the killing of three soldiers in Rafah.

Herb Keinon and Reuters contributed to this report.

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