A Palestinian medic carries a boy wounded in Israeli
shelling to a hospital in Gaza City.
Qatar to host Gaza talks with Abbas, Ban
Doha, July 20, 2014
Qatar will host a meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday to try to reach a ceasefire agreement with Israel to bring an end to 12 days of warfare, a senior Qatari source told Reuters.
Meanwhile, Israel fired shells into the Gaza Strip and militants kept up rocket fire into the Jewish state on Sunday with no sign of a diplomatic breakthrough to end the worst fighting between Israel and Hamas in two years.
Israeli tank shells killed one Palestinian and hit houses in the northern Gaza district of Shejaia, where residents called local radio stations pleading for evacuation. Shelling killed four Palestinians near the southern town of Rafah, health officials said.
Gaza officials said at least 341 Palestinians, many of them civilians, have been killed in the 13-day conflict. On Israel's side, three soldiers and two civilians have died.
The Qatar led talks, due to take place in Doha, will be headed by Qatar's Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, who has been acting as a "channel of communication" between Hamas and the international community, said the senior source familiar with the matter.
"Qatar has presented Hamas' requests to the international community, the list has been presented to France and to the UN, the talks tomorrow will be to further negotiate these conditions."
Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, has rejected Egyptian efforts to end fighting that has killed more than 300 Palestinians, mostly civilians, saying any deal must include an end to a blockade of the coastal area and a recommitment to a ceasefire reached in an eight-day war there in 2012.
A UN statement said that Ban will be traveling to the Middle East over the weekend "to express solidarity with Israelis and Palestinians and to help them, in coordination with regional and international actors, to end the violence and find a way forward".
It added that he will be traveling to Doha, Kuwait City, Cairo, Jerusalem, Ramallah and Amman and that other stops might be added.
Western diplomatic sources see Qatar as a strategic player in reaching an effective ceasefire deal as the country plays host to a large number of exiled Islamists from across the Middle East, including Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal.
The senior Qatari source added that Abbas is also due to hold talks with Meshaal following his meeting with the United Nations chief.
"Qatar will not put any pressure on Hamas to bring down or reduce or change their demands, Qatar is only acting as a communication channel," the source said.
Egypt said on Saturday it had no plans to revise the ceasefire proposal, which Hamas has already rejected. And a Hamas source in Doha said the group has no plans to change their conditions to a ceasefire.
"We want the rights of our people, Palestinians on the ground are supporting us and we will get them back their rights," said the source.
Israel sent ground forces into Hamas-dominated Gaza on Thursday after 10 days of heavy air and naval barrages failed to stop rocket fire from the Palestinian territory.
The land incursion has so far failed to subdue Hamas and its allies. They fired more than 90 rockets into Israel on Saturday, the Israeli army said. Israel has vowed to destroy a network of tunnels out of Gaza and hunt down the militants' stockpiles of missiles. - Reuters