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John Kerry says no deal yet on 7-day Gaza truce

5 Killed in West Bank Amid New Gaza Truce Efforts


JERUSALEM (AP) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that more work was needed to reach a deal between Israel and Hamas for a seven-day truce in the Gaza war. Israel's defense minister warned that the military may soon broaden its ground operation "significantly."

The tough statement by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, coupled with Kerry's inability to broker even a temporary cease-fire after a week of shuttling around the region, signaled the fighting is likely to drag on, with more than 820 Palestinians and 38 people in Israel killed so far.

In a statement issued shortly after Kerry spoke at a press conference in Cairo, Yaalon's office quoted him telling troops in the field that "you need to be ready for the possibility that very soon we will instruct the military to significantly broaden the ground operation in Gaza."

"Hamas is paying a very heavy price and will pay an even heavier price," Yaalon said. "At the end of the operation, Hamas will have to think very hard if it is worth it to taunt us in the future."

Israel has said a key objective of its ground operation is to destroy Hamas military tunnels under the Gaza-Israel border - and Israeli media have said the military wants more time to complete the mission.

Of 31 discovered so far, about half have been destroyed. The tunnels, used by Hamas in the past to sneak into Israel, are seen as a strategic threat against Israel.

For days, Kerry has been moving between the Egyptian capital, the West Bank and Jerusalem and talking to officials from Qatar, which is in contact with Hamas. But the most Kerry seemed to have won so far was a willingness from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to consider a far less ambitious 12-hour halt in fighting, proposed by U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon.

Netanyahu, Kerry said, "has indicated his willingness to do that as a good faith down payment to move forward."

Still, Kerry said that the parties are closer than ever to an agreement for a seven-day "humanitarian" truce to start with the Muslim Eid holiday on Monday, ending the holy month of Ramadan.

Speaking alongside the U.N. secretary-general and the Egyptian foreign minister, Kerry insisted that there was a general agreement on the "concept" of a truce but that both sides had concerns over details of carrying it out.

"Gaps have been significantly narrowed," he said. "It can be achieved, if we work through some of the issues that are important for the parties."

Gaza fighting continued alongside the truce efforts. Israeli airstrikes hit more than 80 sites in Gaza, while militants in the tiny Mediterranean strip fired 50 rockets at Israel, the army said. Among the sites hit in Gaza were 30 homes, including that of a leader of the Islamic Jihad group who was killed along with his sons, Palestinian officials said.

And unrest sparked by the conflict intensified in the West Bank, where five Palestinians were killed during protests against the Israeli operation in Gaza.

The U.S. top diplomat said the goal of halting fighting for seven days was to provide time to work out further talks to address each side's demands. He said some "terminology" on a truce's framework still needed work.

Hamas demands the release of Palestinian prisoners in addition to an end to the 7-year-old border blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt after the group seized Gaza from the Western-backed government of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Israeli TV reports said Israel's Security Cabinet unanimously rejected Kerry's proposal in its current form, mainly because it would mean Israel has to cut short the effort to destroy tunnels. But Kerry said he had not submitted a formal proposal to Israel for the Cabinet to vote on.

Israeli government officials were not immediately available for comment.

The worst round of cross-border fighting in more than five years has killed 828 Palestinians and wounded more than 5,200, according to Palestinian health officials. The U.N. says civilians make up three-fourths of the dead and a majority of the wounded.

In Israel, 38 people have been killed since July 8, including 35 soldiers, two Israeli civilians and a Thai worker.

The army announced on Friday that an Israeli soldier whom Hamas had claimed to have captured earlier this week had in fact died in battle on that day. The declaration lifts fears of a soldier in Hamas custody - one of Israel's worst-case scenarios in any fight with the militants.

The army said it determined that Sgt. Oron Shaul was killed among seven soldiers killed in a vehicle that was hit by an anti-tank missile in Gaza on Sunday. The others in the vehicle were confirmed dead soon after the battle ended but Shaul's remains were not immediately identified. Shaul is among the count of 35 soldiers killed in the fighting.

As the Gaza fighting drags on, the West Bank is becoming increasingly restive.

Protests erupted Friday in the northern village of Hawara, near the city of Nablus, and the southern village of Beit Omar, near the city of Hebron. Palestinian hospital officials said three Palestinians were killed in Beit Omar and two in Hawara.

The mayor of Hawara, Mouin Idmeidi, said he and hundreds of others from the village participated in a protest after emerging from a local mosque after Friday prayers.

Hawara is located along a main north-south thoroughfare that is also used by Israeli motorists. The mayor said an Israeli motorist slowed down as he passed the march and fired at the group.

The mayor said four people were wounded and that one of them, a 19-year-old, died at Rafidiyeh Hospital in Nablus of his injuries.

After the shooting, clashes erupted between Palestinians and Israeli troops who opened fire, killing a 22-year-old from Hawara, the mayor said.

Rafidiyeh hospital confirmed the deaths.

An Israeli police spokesman, Mickey Rosenfeld, said paramilitary border police opened fire to disperse violent protests at Hawara, and that masked Palestinians threw firebombs. He said he was unaware of a shooting involving an Israeli civilian.

In Beit Omar, clashes erupted between Israeli forces and Palestinian stone-throwers. Hebron hospital officials said three Palestinians were killed.

The Israeli military said it was looking into the reports.

On Thursday, thousands of Palestinians clashes with Israeli forces at a West Bank checkpoint and in east Jerusalem, the largest protests in those areas in several years.


Associated Press writers Mohammed Daraghmeh in the West Bank and Yousur Alhlou in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

Join the discussion

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terrihieber July 25 2014 at 2:44 PM

The roadblock is Hamas. They could care less if they kill more of their own children. These fools are totally nuts, and the Palestinian people need to open their eyes to see this reality, and kick or kill these terrorists from their land.

Flag Reply +100 rate up
14 replies
mvnup July 25 2014 at 2:42 PM

It sad to see Israel getting targeted by these terrorist all these years. It’s good to see they are finally reacting to the threat.

Flag Reply +101 rate up
15 replies
phylsingleton July 25 2014 at 3:02 PM

Until the muslim in the WH is willing to stop funding the terroists, which included the PLO, Hammas, and Muslim Brotherhood, then Kerry should keep his mouth shut. He has no right to insist that Israel do anything

Flag Reply +99 rate up
32 replies
mvnup July 25 2014 at 2:42 PM

They keep showing the casualties and graves of the Palestinians but why should anyone care aren’t the Palestinians the same people who strap bombs on their women and children and send them into malls and on buses to kill others?

Flag Reply +99 rate up
14 replies
nasatristate July 25 2014 at 3:02 PM

Ignore Kerry, Obama and the Huff Post, wipe out Hamas out!

Flag Reply +99 rate up
8 replies
rreef1993 July 25 2014 at 2:54 PM

The only time Hamas wants a time out is to regroup. This time finish the job Israel. Don't worry about Kerry has never been right on foreign policies in the past twenty years. Just what we needed a Secretary of State. he should just keep going around the world talking about climate change.

Flag Reply +94 rate up
3 replies
ray13666 July 25 2014 at 2:40 PM

I guess the muslims have a death wish?
Wait until they see their 72 virgins are 90 year old nuns.

Flag Reply +80 rate up
15 replies
mckdarren July 25 2014 at 2:41 PM

Any Palestinian that hasn't long since moved on to a better future far away from Gaza and the West Bank is, by definition, a loser or suicidal maniac. Thus the sooner they've all been liquidated, the better.

Flag Reply +66 rate up
9 replies
seabasskj July 25 2014 at 5:17 PM

Liberals like to talk about Sarah Palin, but she no longer even holds a government position. However- Obama, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Joe Biden are some of the 'leaders' of the democratic party. A list of about the most moronic individuals a person could assemble. And we wonder why both our domestic and foreign policies are doing so poorly.

Flag Reply +16 rate up
2 replies
north213sylvania seabasskj July 25 2014 at 5:21 PM

Well said

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Emanuel seabasskj July 25 2014 at 6:19 PM

Seabasskj....not even Ghandi himself could create peace in the middle east. Two right wing elements on both sides want to show whose king and are blowing each other up.
Obama is doing his best to stay out of wars unlike his predecessor.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
1 reply
rexjohnvii Emanuel July 26 2014 at 9:25 AM

so just like president zero and his buddys, you think just giving up is going to stop the wars. GEES, NO WONDER WERE IN SUCH A MESS. people that think like you got to be a bunch of idiots if you cant see whats going on.

Flag 0 rate up
KAJ July 25 2014 at 5:25 PM

Kerry is a joke along with everyone else in the White House

Flag Reply +13 rate up
2 replies
savannahswithgod KAJ July 26 2014 at 9:23 AM

Don't leave out Congress, both sides. When they all gather in secret though they know the joke is on us as their Greed destroys the United States of America. Shop locally please, that will help it to come faster.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
rexjohnvii KAJ July 26 2014 at 9:26 AM

couldn't of said it any better.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
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