Egypt proposes cease-fire between Israel, Hamas

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Egypt proposes cease-fire between Israel, Hamas
Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki attends an emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo on July 15, 2014 to discuss the situation in the Gaza Strip on day 7 of a deadly Israeli offensive against the Palestinian enclave aimed at halting militant rocket attacks. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI (Photo credit should read KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)
A general view shows an emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo on July 15, 2014 to discuss the situation in the Gaza Strip on day 7 of a deadly Israeli offensive against the Palestinian enclave aimed at halting militant rocket attacks. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI (Photo credit should read KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki attends an emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo on July 15, 2014 to discuss the situation in the Gaza Strip on day 7 of a deadly Israeli offensive against the Palestinian enclave aimed at halting militant rocket attacks. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI (Photo credit should read KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)
A photo taken on July 15, 2014 from the southern Israeli Gaza border shows Israeli army flares falling into the Palestinian enclave. Israel's security cabinet was to meet early on July 15 to discuss Egyptian proposals for a truce in Gaza, a senior official said, as an aerial campaign against Hamas entered its eighth day. AFP PHOTO/MENAHEM KAHANA (Photo credit should read MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)
A photo taken on July 15, 2014 from the southern Israeli Gaza border shows Israeli army flares falling into the Palestinian enclave. Israel's security cabinet was to meet early on July 15 to discuss Egyptian proposals for a truce in Gaza, a senior official said, as an aerial campaign against Hamas entered its eighth day. AFP PHOTO/MENAHEM KAHANA (Photo credit should read MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)
A photo taken on July 15, 2014 from the southern Israeli Gaza border shows Israeli army flares falling into the Palestinian enclave. Israel's security cabinet was to meet early on July 15 to discuss Egyptian proposals for a truce in Gaza, a senior official said, as an aerial campaign against Hamas entered its eighth day. AFP PHOTO/MENAHEM KAHANA (Photo credit should read MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)
A Palestinian protester clashes with an Israeli soldier at the Israeli maned checkpoint at the entrance of the northern Palestinian city of Nablus, in the occupied West Bank on July 14, 2014, as they demonstrate against the ongoing Israeli air campaign against Gaza militants which has risen to 176, a quarter of the victims children, a UN official said. AFP PHOTO/JAAFAR ASHTIYEH (Photo credit should read JAAFAR ASHTIYEH/AFP/Getty Images)
Palestinian protesters clash with an Israeli soldiers at the Israeli maned checkpoint at the entrance of the northern Palestinian city of Nablus, in the occupied West Bank on July 14, 2014, as they demonstrate against the ongoing Israeli air campaign against Gaza militants which has risen to 176, a quarter of the victims children, a UN official said. AFP PHOTO/JAAFAR ASHTIYEH (Photo credit should read JAAFAR ASHTIYEH/AFP/Getty Images)
Palestinian mourners gather outside a house after the bodies of Mousa Abu Muamer, 56, and his son Saddam, 27, who were killed in an overnight Israeli missile strike at their house on the outskirts of the town of Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, were brought in during their funeral procession, Monday, July 14, 2014. Saddam's wife Hanadi, 27, was also killed in the attack. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
FILE - In this file photo taken July 8, 2014, an Israeli missile explodes on impact in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip. Israel says its punishing air assault on Hamas militants, their property and their weaponry has delivered a devastating blow to the Islamic militant group. Yet rocket fire at Israel has continued almost unabated. (AP Photo/Eyad Baba, File)
FILE - In this file photo taken July 9, 2014, Israeli missiles hit smuggling tunnels between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip. Israel says its punishing air assault on Hamas militants, their property and their weaponry has delivered a devastating blow to the Islamic militant group. Yet rocket fire at Israel has continued almost unabated. (AP Photo/Hatem Ali, File)
FILE - In this file photo taken July 5, 2014, an Iron Dome air defense system fires to intercept a rocket from Gaza Strip in the costal city of Ashkelon, Israel. Israel says its punishing air assault on Hamas militants, their property and their weaponry has delivered a devastating blow to the Islamic militant group. Yet rocket fire at Israel has continued almost unabated. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov, File)
Two Lebanese men carry a fake missile to protest against the Israeli offensive in Gaza, as they take part in a sit-in, in front the United Nations headquarters, in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday July 13, 2014. Israel briefly deployed ground troops inside the Gaza Strip for the first time early Sunday as its military warned northern Gaza residents to evacuate their homes, part of a widening offensive that has killed more than 160 Palestinians. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
An Israeli armored personnel drives along the Israel and Gaza border, Sunday, July 13, 2014. Israel briefly deployed ground troops inside the Gaza Strip for the first time early Sunday as its military warned northern Gaza residents to evacuate their homes, part of a widening offensive that has killed more than 160 Palestinians. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
Palestinian firefighters try to extinguish a cargo terminal at Karni Crossing between Israel and Gaza after it was shelled by Israeli tanks, according to terminal's employees, Saturday, July 12, 2014. Palestinian officials said Israeli airstrike hit a group of people sitting in front of a closed shop killing several, raising the Palestinian death toll to more than 120 during an Israeli offensive that showed no signs of slowing down. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Press photographers take pictures as Israeli soldiers clean the barrel of their mobile artillery unit after it fired shells towards Gaza, at a position on the Israel-Gaza border, Saturday, July 12, 2014. Israeli airstrikes overnight targeting Hamas in Gaza hit a mosque its military says concealed the militant group's weapons, in an offensive that showed no signs of slowing down. Israel launched its campaign five days ago to stop relentless rocket fire on its citizens. While there have been no fatalities in Israel, Palestinian officials said overnight attacks raised the death toll there to over 120, with more than 920 wounded. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Israeli soldiers on armored personnel carriers move to a new position on the Israel-Gaza Border, Saturday, July 12, 2014. Israeli airstrikes overnight targeting Hamas in Gaza hit a mosque its military says concealed the militant group's weapons, in an offensive that showed no signs of slowing down. Israel launched its campaign five days ago to stop relentless rocket fire on its citizens. While there have been no fatalities in Israel, Palestinian officials said overnight attacks raised the death toll there to over 120, with more than 920 wounded. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Israeli soldiers on a mobile artillery unit fire a shell towards Gaza at a position on the Israel-Gaza border, Saturday, July 12, 2014. Israeli airstrikes overnight targeting Hamas in Gaza hit a mosque its military says concealed the militant group's weapons, in an offensive that showed no signs of slowing down. Israel launched its campaign five days ago to stop relentless rocket fire on its citizens. While there have been no fatalities in Israel, Palestinian officials said overnight attacks raised the death toll there to over 120, with more than 920 wounded. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Israeli infantry soldiers walk to their armored personnel carriers to move to a new position on the Israel Gaza border, Saturday, July 12, 2014. Israeli airstrikes overnight targeting Hamas in Gaza hit a mosque its military says concealed the militant group's weapons, in an offensive that showed no signs of slowing down. Israel launched its campaign five days ago to stop relentless rocket fire on its citizens. While there have been no fatalities in Israel, Palestinian officials said overnight attacks raised the death toll there to over 120, with more than 920 wounded. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Israeli soldiers on a mobile artillery unit fire a shell towards Gaza at a position on the Israel-Gaza border, Saturday, July 12, 2014. Israeli airstrikes overnight targeting Hamas in Gaza hit a mosque its military says concealed the militant group's weapons, in an offensive that showed no signs of slowing down. Israel launched its campaign five days ago to stop relentless rocket fire on its citizens. While there have been no fatalities in Israel, Palestinian officials said overnight attacks raised the death toll there to over 120, with more than 920 wounded. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Israeli soldiers on armored personnel carriers move to new positions on the Israel-Gaza Border, Saturday, July 12, 2014. Israeli airstrikes targeting Hamas in Gaza overnight hit a mosque its military says concealed the militant group's weapons, in an offensive that showed no signs of slowing down. Israel launched its campaign five days ago to stop relentless rocket fire on its citizens. While there have been no fatalities in Israel, Palestinian officials said overnight attacks raised the death toll there to over 120, with more than 920 wounded. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
An Israeli soldier leans on the barrel of the gun of a mobile artillery unit at a position on the Israel-Gaza border, Friday, July 11, 2014. Gaza rocket fire struck a gas station and set it ablaze Friday in southern Israel, seriously wounding one person as rocket fire also came from Lebanon for the first time in the four-day-long offensive. Rocket fire by Palestinian militants continued from Gaza toward various locations in southern Israel. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
An Israeli soldier sleeps on a truck behind mobile artillery unit shells at a position on the Israel-Gaza border, Friday, July 11, 2014. Gaza rocket fire struck a gas station and set it ablaze Friday in southern Israel, seriously wounding one person as rocket fire also came from Lebanon for the first time in the four-day-long offensive. Rocket fire by Palestinian militants continued from Gaza toward various locations in southern Israel. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Israeli army tanks are seen at a staging area on the Israel-Gaza border, Friday, July 11, 2014. Gaza rocket fire struck a gas station and set it ablaze Friday in southern Israel, seriously wounding one person as rocket fire also came from Lebanon for the first time in the four-day-long offensive. Rocket fire by Palestinian militants continued from Gaza toward various locations in southern Israel. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
An Israeli soldier sleeps on a mobile artillery unit at a position on the Israel-Gaza border, Friday, July 11, 2014. Gaza rocket fire struck a gas station and set it ablaze Friday in southern Israel, seriously wounding one person as rocket fire also came from Lebanon for the first time in the four-day-long offensive. Rocket fire by Palestinian militants continued from Gaza toward various locations in southern Israel. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
A woman runs for cover as sirens are heard in the southern Israeli port city of Ashdod during a rocket attack by Palestinian militants from the neighboring Gaza Strip on July 17, 2014. Fighting between Israel and Hamas resumed in deadly earnest today after a brief humanitarian ceasefire allowed Gaza residents to restock and hunker down, and as efforts towards a lasting truce intensified. AFP PHOTO/DAVID BUIMOVITCH (Photo credit should read DAVID BUIMOVITCH/AFP/Getty Images)
Israeli soldiers smile as they ride on a military vehicle near the Israel-Gaza Border, Thursday, July 17, 2014. Israel and Hamas have begun observing a five-hour humanitarian cease-fire, as fighting extended into a 10th day. The two sides agreed to the pause following a request by the United Nations so that supplies could be delivered to Gaza.(AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
An Israeli tank takes a position along the Israel-Gaza Border, Thursday, July 17, 2014. Israel and Hamas have begun observing a five-hour humanitarian cease-fire, as fighting extended into a 10th day. The two sides agreed to the pause following a request by the United Nations so that supplies could be delivered to Gaza.(AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
An Israeli tank maneuvers to take a position along the Israel-Gaza Border, Thursday, July 17, 2014. Israel and Hamas have begun observing a five-hour humanitarian cease-fire, as fighting extended into a 10th day. The two sides agreed to the pause following a request by the United Nations so that supplies could be delivered to Gaza.(AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Left wing Israelis hold signs as they participate in a demonstration against the Israeli military action in the Gaza Strip, in Jerusalem, Thursday, July 17, 2014. Fierce fighting between Israel and Hamas resumed Thursday, including an airstrike that killed three Palestinian children feeding pigeons on their roof, after a temporary cease-fire that allowed Gazans to stock up on supplies. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
Left wing Israelis hold signs as they participate in a demonstration against the Israeli military action in the Gaza Strip, in Jerusalem, Thursday, July 17, 2014. Fierce fighting between Israel and Hamas resumed Thursday, including an airstrike that killed three Palestinian children feeding pigeons on their roof, after a temporary cease-fire that allowed Gazans to stock up on supplies. Hebrew on sign reads: "Stop the fighting." (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
An Israeli tank takes a position along near the Israel-Gaza Border, Thursday, July 17, 2014. Israel and Hamas have begun observing a five-hour humanitarian cease-fire, as fighting extended into a 10th day. The two sides agreed to the pause following a request by the United Nations so that supplies could be delivered to Gaza.(AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
An Israeli tank takes a position along the Israel-Gaza Border, Thursday, July 17, 2014. Israel and Hamas have begun observing a five-hour humanitarian cease-fire, as fighting extended into a 10th day. The two sides agreed to the pause following a request by the United Nations so that supplies could be delivered to Gaza.(AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
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By JOSEF FEDERMAN and MAGGIE MICHAEL
Associated Press

JERUSALEM (AP) -- Egypt presented a cease-fire plan Monday to end a week of heavy fighting between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip that has left at least 185 people dead, and both sides said they were seriously considering the proposal.

The late-night offer by Egypt marked the first sign of a breakthrough in international efforts to end the conflict.

Hamas' top leader in Gaza confirmed there was "diplomatic movement," while Israel's policy-making Security Cabinet was set to discuss the proposal early Tuesday. Arab foreign ministers discussed the plan Monday night at an emergency meeting in Cairo, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was expected in the region Tuesday.

Raw: Israeli Air Strikes Spur West Bank Protest

Egypt's Foreign Ministry announced the three-step plan starting at 9 a.m. (0600 GMT, 2 a.m. EDT) with a cease-fire to go into effect within 12 hours of "unconditional acceptance" by the two sides. That would be followed by the opening of Gaza's border crossings and talks in Cairo between the sides within two days, according to the statement.

Gaza's crossings should be opened for people and goods "once the security situation becomes stable," according to a copy of the proposal obtained by The Associated Press.

The United States welcomed the cease-fire plan. White House spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said the U.S. hopes the plan will lead to calm being restored as soon as possible and that escalation won't benefit Israelis or Palestinians.

Israel launched the offensive July 8, saying it was a response to weeks of heavy rocket fire out of Hamas-ruled Gaza. The Health Ministry in Gaza said 185 people, including dozens of civilians, have been killed, and more than 1,000 people wounded.

There have been no Israelis killed, although several have been wounded by rocket shrapnel, including two sisters, ages 11 and 13, who were seriously hurt Monday. Ahead of the Egyptian announcement, there appeared to be no slowdown in the fighting, with Hamas for the first time launching an unmanned drone into Israeli airspace that was shot down.

The Israeli military said 3 rockets were fired at the southern city of Eilat early Tuesday morning, lightly injuring two people and sparking a fire. The military said it did not immediately know who was behind the rocket fire. Previous rocket attacks on Eilat were from radical Islamic militants in the neighboring Sinai Peninsula.

The violence followed the kidnappings and killings of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank last month, as well as the subsequent kidnapping and killing of a Palestinian teenager in an apparent revenge attack, along with Israeli raids against Hamas militants and infrastructure in the West Bank.

Israeli officials have said the goal of the military campaign is to restore quiet to Israel's south, which has absorbed hundreds of rocket strikes, and that any cease-fire would have to include guarantees of an extended period of calm.

Hamas officials say they will not accept "calm for calm." The group is demanding an easing of an Israeli-Egyptian blockade that has ground Gaza's economy to a standstill and that Israel release dozens of prisoners who were arrested in a recent West Bank crackdown following the abductions of the Israeli youths.

With the death toll mounting, both sides have come under increasing international pressure to halt the fighting.

Egypt Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri said there is "no alternative but return to the truce" of November 2012, and added that Egypt contacted all the parties, including the Palestinian leadership, different Palestinian factions, and Israeli authorities in addition to Arab and international parties. Such contacts led to shaping up the proposal which called for cease-fire.

"Egypt stresses the international responsibility toward what is happening in Palestine," he said.

In a speech broadcast on Al-Jazeera, Ismail Haniyeh, a Hamas leader in Gaza, confirmed there was "diplomatic movement."

"The problem is not going back to the agreement on calm because we want this aggression to stop," he said. "The siege must stop and Gaza people need to live in dignity."

An Israeli official said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would convene his Security Cabinet on Tuesday morning to discuss the proposal. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

Naftali Bennett, a member of the Security Cabinet, said he would oppose the proposal, calling it "good for Hamas and bad for Israel."

"A cease-fire at the present time shows the government's weakness," he said in a statement. "A cease-fire now will create a bigger campaign against the south of the country and more rocket attacks in another year."

Egypt, the first Arab state to reach peace with Israel, often serves as a mediator between Israel and Hamas.

In the 2012 fighting, Egypt's then-President Mohammed Morsi brokered a cease-fire, leveraging the influence his Muslim Brotherhood held with Hamas, its ally.

That deal included pledges to ease the blockade - promises that Hamas says were never kept. The blockade has greatly restricted movement through Gaza's Rafah crossing with Egypt - the territory's main gateway to the outside world - while Israel has restricted the flow of many goods, particularly much-needed construction materials, into Gaza. Israel says Hamas can use things like metal and concrete for military purposes.

Hamas has seen its position further weakened by last year's military coup in Egypt that ousted Morsi. Egypt's new leaders have cracked down on Hamas by nearly shuttering a network of smuggling tunnels along the border that were Hamas' key economic lifeline - and supply route for its weapons.

Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007 from the rival forces of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. With the economy stagnant and Hamas unable to pay the salaries of its thousands of civil servants, the group recently agreed to back a unity government under Abbas' leadership. But Hamas remains in firm control of Gaza.

Israel and Hamas, which is considered a terrorist group by the West, have battled many times. In the latest round, Israel carried out more than 1,300 airstrikes, along with attacks by naval gunships and artillery forces. Hamas fired hundreds of rockets into Israel.

Israeli military officials say the airstrikes knocked out roughly a third of Hamas' rocket supply and delivered a blow to the group. It says that roughly 90 of the dead were wanted militants, and it has accused Hamas of using civilians as human shields.

A Hamas drone launched Monday into Israel marked the Islamic militant group's latest effort to catch the Israeli military off-guard. But like the others, it had little impact on the battlefield.

Israel shot down the drone - named Ababil for a protective flock of birds mentioned in the Quran. Still, the drone represented a new level of sophistication for Hamas, and Israel said it was taking the threat seriously.

It was the first time Hamas has launched a drone into Israel, though military officials say they knew the group has had the technology for some time. Israeli airstrikes in the past have targeted what were believed to be drone facilities in Gaza.

"Hamas is trying everything it can to produce some kind of achievement, and it is crucial that we maintain our high state of readiness," Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said. "The shooting down of a drone this morning by our air defense system is an example of their efforts to strike at us in any way possible."

The hundreds of rockets fired by Hamas disrupted life across Israel. But a new Israeli rocket-defense system has intercepted dozens of projectiles headed toward major cities.

Looking to gain an edge, Hamas has employed tactics not seen before. It has fired rockets deeper than ever into Israel, including weapons it has developed and manufactured in Gaza. Last week, Hamas sent a team of scuba divers on an infiltration mission, but Israel quickly detected the frogmen and killed them outside an army base.

Isaac Ben-Israel, a retired Israeli air force general and a former head of the Israeli space agency, said the Hamas drone was similar to aircraft sent by Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon during a 2006 war.

He said the drone's capabilities were limited. But "looking to the future, these technologies are becoming more and more available," he told Channel 10 TV.

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Associated Press writers Karin Laub in Gaza City, Gaza Strip, Yousur Alhlour and Ian Deitch in Jerusalem, Josh Lederman in Washington, and Ibrahim Barzak in Amman, Jordan, contributed to this report.

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