Israel approves Egyptian-proposed Gaza truce

Palestinians look at the damage to a house following an overnight Israeli missile strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, July 14. AP Photo

Israel approved the Egyptian-proposed Gaza truce on July 15, minutes before it was to come into effect at 6 a.m. GMT, Israeli officials said.

They said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet had convened to vote on the deal at Israeli military headquarters in Tel Aviv.

Meanwhile, the number of casualties in Gaza since the start of Israel's latest offensive climbed to189 killed and more than 1,400 injured the Palestinian health ministry said.

Although the deal proposed by Egypt was welcomed by Israel, it was regarded suspiciously by the Hamas, who said they had not been consulted by Cairo.

Hamas's armed wing vowed its rocket attacks on the Jewish state would "increase in ferocity and intensity" but cross-border violence waned ahead of the mooted 6 a.m. truce.

Earlier, Amos Gilad, a senior Israeli defence official and envoy to Cairo, cast the deal positively, saying Hamas had been weakened militarily by the air and sea bombardment of impoverished Gaza.

"Look at the balance, and you see that Hamas tried every possible means of striking at Israel while bringing great and terrible damage on its people, from their perspective," Gilad told Israel's Army Radio.

"The Egyptian proposal includes a halt to all kind of (military) activity," he said. "What this proposal, if it is accepted, means is that, willy-nilly, Hamas did not manage to make good on its intentions."

But Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said the Islamist group had not received an official ceasefire proposal, and he repeated its position that demands it has made must be met before it lays down its weapons.

Hamas's armed wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, rejected the reported text of the truce deal, saying...

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