Gaza: death toll passes 1,000; Hamas accepts Egyptian ceasefire plan?

Dozens of Israeli tanks pushed into Gaza City from the south early Jan. 15, as the forces in the north of the city also continued their advance. Israeli warplanes carried out some 70 air-strikes overnight, and numerous civilian structures were again hit. Israeli forces shelled a store near Al-Karameh towers in Gaza City, the Bashir mosque, and the al-Arqam school in eastern Gaza City. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, the death toll is now 1,054. (Ma’an News Agency, Jan. 15)

The advance continued despite an announcement the previous day by Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit that Hamas has accepted Cairo’s proposal for an immediate ceasefire. The Egyptian plan calls for a withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, the opening of the Strip’s borders, and a role for the Palestinian Authority in controlling the borders. At a Cairo press conference, Abu Al-Gheit said “we will tell the Israeli side what Hamas had informed us.”

Hamas spokesman Salah Al-Bardawil had earlier praised the Egyptian proposal. “The Egyptian initiative is the only one that called for an immediate stop to Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip,” he said. Other Hamas leaders expressed skepticism. The deputy chair of Hamas’s Political Bureau, Moussa Abu Marzouk, told the al-Arabiya television network: “Israel did not abide by any of the previous truce’s conditions, and therefore there must be a short and pre-defined period between each stage, that would allow us to evaluate the situation and agree to move on to the next stage.” (Ma’an News Agency, Jan. 14)

See our last post on the Gaza.

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