Violence reverberated across Gaza Monday as Egypt proposed a new cease-fire that would open key crossings into the blockaded territory.
Israel bombed over a dozen sites including homes and mosques, killing at least five people, bringing the Palestinian death toll in the seven-week assault to 2,125, Palestinian sources said. On the Israeli side, 68 people have been killed, four of them civilians and the rest soldiers, AFP reported.
A spokeswoman for the Israeli occupation army said warplanes had carried out 16 raids. No rockets have been fired at Israeli occupied territory from the Gaza Strip since 2100 GMT Sunday.
Hamas's al-Qassam Brigades announced that it hit back with a new barrage of rockets of Monday against Israeli terror sites, including three that targeted the Karam Abu Salem military base.
And in a joint operation between al-Qassam and Fatah's al-Aqsa Brigades, the fighters targeted a group of Israeli occupation forces east of Gaza City with 30 shells.
Since an earlier cease-fire arrangement collapsed on August 19, the death toll in Gaza has risen steadily with 106 Palestinians killed in more than 350 Israeli airstrikes across the territory.
Following a weekend of heavy fire on the south, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted Israel would not be worn down by persistent rocket fire and that the operation would not end until quiet was restored.
But by early Monday, there was increasing chatter about a possible new cease-fire agreement which would see the delegations return to Cairo to resume talks on an Egyptian proposal to broker a more permanent end to the violence.
"There is an idea for a temporary cease-fire that opens the crossings, allows aid and reconstruction material, and the disputed points will be discussed in a month," a senior Palestinian official told AFP in Cairo.
"We would be willing to accept this, but are waiting for the Israeli response to this proposal," he said, requesting anonymity because of the sensitivity of the negotiations.
Another Palestinian official said Egypt might invite Palestinian and Israeli negotiating teams to return to Cairo within 48 hours.
"Efforts are ongoing to reach an agreement," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told AFP, without going into specifics.
And Daud Shihab, Islamic Jihad's spokesman, also confirmed such efforts were underway.
"The success of contacts (talks) to reach a cease-fire depends on Palestinian demands being met," he said.
There was no immediate comment from Israel, with Netanyahu's spokesman Mark Regev refusing to comment on the matter and saying Israel's position of no negotiations under fire had "not changed."
Egypt has repeatedly urged all parties to accept an open-ended truce and return to the negotiating table in Cairo.
The political chief of Hamas called on U.S. President Barack Obama to intervene with the Israeli government to "lift the siege" of Gaza and push for a cease-fire in the conflict to stop a "holocaust" against the Palestinians.
"You as the leader of the most powerful state in the world, I ask you to call [on] Israel to stop its aggression on Gaza — and to lift the siege and open the cross borders and to rebuild Gaza," said Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal, in an interview with Yahoo News.
"This is our demands," he said.
"Resistance did what Arab armies could not do"
Meanwhile, a military analyst for the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahrnoth has said that what the Palestinian resistance did to Israel during the current war three Arab armies failed to do in the past.
In an interview with the Israeli Radio Reshet Bet, Ron ben-Yishai said that Hamas and Islamic Jihad did what the "Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian armies" could not do in their wars with Israel.
Ben-Yishai said that during the Israeli wars with those armies, Israel was not dragged to a campaign of attrition because the battlefields were not inside the country, whereas the Palestinian resistance succeeded to move the battle inside Israel.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad, he pointed out, succeeded to exhaust the Israeli army first, and the Israeli people to secondly. In previous wars with the Egyptian army, no Israeli left his house, whereas in this war with Gaza, thousands have fled their houses.
He continued, "All the Kibbutzim around the Gaza Strip are empty because of the Palestinian missiles and rockets did not stop."
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