An Israeli missile strike hits a building in a refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip on Monday. Egypt presented a cease-fire plan to end a week of heavy fighting between Israel and Hamas militants in the 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 policymaking Security Cabinet was set to discuss the proposal early today. Secretary of State John Kerry was expected in the region soon.
Egypt’s Foreign Ministry announced the plan, 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.
As rumors of a cease-fire spread, people in Gaza remained wary. The beach villas were empty, the farms abandoned and the teeming street life in the northern tier of the Gaza Strip vanished, as fleeing residents left ghost towns behind them.
Over the past seven days, Israel has hit more than 1,470 targets in Gaza.