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10 Aug, 2014 17:12

Israel, Palestinians agree to new 72-hour Gaza ceasefire – officials

Israel, Palestinians agree to new 72-hour Gaza ceasefire – officials

An agreement on a new Egypt-proposed 72-hour Gaza ceasefire was reached on Sunday, Reuters reported, citing Israeli and Palestinian officials.

Read more: Israel launches ground incursion in Gaza Strip LIVE UPDATES

Izzat al-Reshiq, a Hamas negotiator in Cairo, told Reuters that Palestinian factions will formally accept the new ceasefire in Gaza, following Israel's agreement to resume talks without pre-conditions.

"In light of Israel's acceptance of the truce and their return without pre-conditions...we will inform the Egyptian brothers of our positive response," he said.

"The Israeli and the Palestinian sides have agreed to the new 72-hour truce to begin serious negotiations leading to a durable ceasefire," said a Palestinian official who is close to the Egyptian-mediated talks.

Israeli officials told Reuters that Israel accepted the new ceasefire and will send negotiators to Cairo on Monday if the truce holds.

Cairo called on both Israel and the Palestinians to accept the new ceasefire starting at 21:00 GMT on Sunday, in order to allow peace talks to resume, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement few hours earlier.

Israel walked away from the ceasefire talks over the weekend after militants resumed rocket fire on southern Israel following the expiration of an earlier three-day truce.

"Israel will not negotiate under fire," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier on Sunday, warning of a protracted military campaign in Gaza if Hamas continues to fire rockets.

Egypt has been a mediator in the talks between the two sides, meeting separately with each party, as Hamas rejects Israel's right to exist and Israel regards the group as a terrorist organization.

The violence has been less intense in the renewed fighting. Sixteen Palestinians were killed in Gaza over the past three days.

Hamas militants have fired more than 100 projectiles – mostly short-range rockets and mortar bombs – on Israeli kibbutzim, or collective farms, just across the border with Gaza. There have been few casualties, as most of the residents had evacuated from the area before last week’s ceasefire.

Israel's Iron Dome rocket interceptor does not work on short-range missiles, though a version called "Iron Beam" is being developed to shoot down mortars.

Since the start of Israel’s month-long Operation Protective Edge, around 1,900 Palestinians and 67 Israelis – mostly soldiers – have been killed.