Israel rejects Kerry ceasefire plan

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Israel’s security cabinet has rejected a Gaza ceasefire proposal put forward by US Secretary of State John Kerry, officials say.

Mr Kerry said he still hoped for an initial seven-day truce for next week’s Eid festival but there was “still some terminology… to work through”.

He said he was confident Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was committed to finding a solution.

Israel and the Islamist group Hamas have been fighting for 18 days.

Israel’s Channel 1 TV reported that the cabinet had unanimously rejected the truce proposal “as it stands”.

More than 800 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 36 Israelis have died since the start of the conflict.

Hamas is yet to respond to the proposed ceasefire but its leader has already said the group will not agree to a deal without an end to Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Israeli airstrikes on Gaza continued on Friday. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it had killed a senior member of the militant group Islamic Jihad.

The IDF also said its Iron Dome defence system had intercepted several rockets fired across the border by Hamas.

Israel launched its military offensive on 8 July with the declared objective of stopping Hamas firing rockets into Israel.

It has since extended its operation to destroy tunnels dug by militants to infiltrate Israel.

Rioting has erupted for the second night running at the Qalandia checkpoint in the West Bank, where 10,000 protesters massed on Thursday, clashing with Israeli border police.

Stones have been thrown and there has been some fire from the Israeli side, the BBC’s Jon Donnison reports.

‘Agony’

In other developments

  • Clashes between Palestinian protesters on the one hand, and Israeli security forces and Jewish settlers on the other, left five Palestinians dead in the West Bank
  • Israel was accused of war crimes in a complaint lodged on behalf of the Palestinians with the International Criminal Court in The Hague
  • Rallies in support of the Palestinians were held in European and Middle Eastern cities, as well as a pro-Israeli rally in Berlin
  • The US secretary of state said the “agony” of the situation for both Gaza and Israel could not be overstated.

    “We are confident that we have a fundamental framework that can and will ultimately work,” he said.

    “We believe that seven days will give all the parties the opportunity to step back from the violence and focus on the underlying causes.”

    He was speaking after talks in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, with Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and UN chief Ban Ki-moon, who likewise called for the seven-day “humanitarian” truce.

    For the UN, Mr Ban said progress was being made but much more work remained.

    Mr Kerry said he would be in Paris on Saturday to continue talks with other players on achieving a ceasefire.