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Israeli airstrikes kill 38 despite Palestinian ceasefire offer

Aug. 21, 2014 10:12 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 22, 2014 9:02 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- At least 38 Palestinians died on Thursday as Israeli planes bombarded Gaza for the second day in a row after a temporary ceasefire fell apart after weeks of fighting, as the Palestinian negotiations delegation accused Israel of failing to respond to an offer for peace.

The deaths brought the death toll in Israel's nearly 50-day assault on the besieged coastal enclave to at least 2,087, a number that was expected to rise Thursday night as Israeli airstrikes continued pounding targets all over the Strip.

Medical authorities in Gaza say that nearly 10,500 have been injured in the Israeli assault so far, including at least 200 in the last two days, and tens of thousands of who had returned home amid a fragile calm during the temporary ceasefires once again were left fleeing for shelters.

The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said on Thursday that around 435,000 Palestinians -- or around one-third of the entire population of Gaza -- had taken refuge in UN shelters. Of those, more than 100,000 have been left homeless, while many of the others' homes have been damaged.

UNOCHA also estimated that of the 3,000 children who had been injured, 1,000 would suffer from a life-long disability, in addition to the estimated 1,500 who are now orphaned and the 373,000 who the organization says will need direct and specialized psychological counseling.

As the bombs continued falling on Gaza City Thursday overnight, these figures were only expected to increase.

Negotiations not a 'complete failure'

Earlier on Thursday, a member of the Palestinian delegations team at ongoing indirect peace talks in Cairo told Ma'an that they were still waiting for a response from Israel on a truce offer they had submitted.

A Hamas spokesman told Ma'an on Wednesday that the team -- which comprises representatives of all major Palestinian political groups -- submitted a new proposal that offered some concessions to Israeli demands, without offering specifics.

Palestinians have demanded in the negotiations that Israel end its eight-year blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has crippled the tiny coastal enclave's economy and led to widespread suffering, as well as re-open an airport and seaport, among other demands.

Israel, however, has demanded Gaza be demilitarized, a demand that Palestinian resistance groups have scoffed at in the wake of the massive Israeli military assault.

On Thursday, member of the talks team Qais Abd al-Karim said that the negotiations were suspended when the Israeli delegation withdrew, stressing that the Palestinian negotiators were still interested in peace.

Abd al-Karim, who is a Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine activist also known as "Abu Laila," added that despite the Israeli withdrawal and the ongoing assault on Gaza, the team had "assured the Egyptians that we still consider negotiations to be going and we are still waiting for a response for our proposal."

"We cannot describe what happened in Cairo as a complete failure for negotiations," he added.

Abd al-Karim's statements come only a day after Hamas blasted Israel for its failure to present a reliable partner for peace, accusing Israel of fabricating claims that Hamas had violated a temporary ceasefire by launching three rockets the day before.

On Thursday, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri reacted to the Israeli killing of three top Hamas commanders by saying that the "assassinations failed to weaken the resistance, or provide security for Israelis."

He also said that the threats made by Israeli defense minister Moshe Ya'alon to assassinate Hamas leaders "do no scare" the movement.

"The names of all these leaders will turn into the names of rockets that will burn Zionists," he added in response.
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