Hamas delegation arrives in Cairo for Gaza talks

Photo: Hamas delegation arrives in Cairo for Gaza talks  / Arab-Israel Relations

A delegation of members from Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad arrived in Cairo on Sunday for indirect ceasefire talks with Israel, to be conducted through Egyptian and U.S. officials, Egyptian sources said, Al Arabiya reported.

Truce talks would include Hamas' demand that Egypt ease movement across its border with blockaded Gaza. Israel said on Saturday it would not send envoys as scheduled, accusing enemy Palestinian Islamists of misleading international mediators.

A U.S./U.N-brokered ceasefire proposal broke down within hours on Friday, with Israel and Hamas trading blame. Members of the Palestinian Authority, which rules the West Bank, arrived in Cairo on Saturday.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns and Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair had also flown to Cairo for negotiations, the sources said.

Egypt, which shares a border with Gaza and like Israel opposes Hamas, has positioned itself as a mediator for the Gaza conflict.

Israel began its air and naval offensive against Gaza on July 8, following what it said was a surge of cross-border rocket salvoes by Hamas and other guerrillas, and it later escalated into ground incursions.

Palestinian officials say 1,675 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in Gaza. Israel has confirmed that 64 soldiers have died in combat, while Palestinian shelling has also killed three civilians in Israel.

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