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A Palestinian firefighter works during efforts to extinguish a fire at Gaza's main power plant, which witnesses said was hit in Israeli shelling, in the central Gaza Strip July 29, 2014. Photo by Reuters
A Palestinian firefighter works during efforts to extinguish a fire at Gaza’s main power plant, which witnesses said was hit in Israeli shelling, in the central Gaza Strip July 29, 2014. Photo by Reuters
Egypt has invited Israel and the Palestinian Authority to send delegates to Cairo for truce talks, after both sides agreed a 72-hour ceasefire in Gaza, the foreign ministry said Friday.

The delegations, which will include representatives of Hamas in Gaza, are expected to depart at any moment, a senior Hamas official said.

“Egypt emphasises the importance of both sides committing to the ceasefire so the negotiations can take place in a favourable atmosphere,” the Egyptian foreign ministry said in a statement.

The ceasefire is scheduled to start at 0500 GMT Friday, possibly ending a 24-day war in which at least 1,435 Palestinians have been killed, along with 56 Israeli soldiers and three Israeli civilians killed in Hamas attacks.

The temporary ceasefire, announced in a joint US-UN declaration, came as a compromise after Hamas rejected an Egyptian initiative earlier last month for a durable truce followed by talks.

The Islamist militants had demanded guarantees that Israel would end its eight-year blockade of Gaza.

Senior Hamas official Ezzat al-Rishq told AFP more talks were needed on finding a solution to the blockade of the coastal enclave. “More efforts are needed,” he said in a telephone interview from Doha, where Hamas’s political leadership is based.

“But now the whole world knows Gaza will not accept a siege.”

The delegations are expected to start arriving in Cairo later Friday.

Frank Lowenstein, the US Middle East envoy, was also expected to depart on Friday to the Egyptian capital, a State Department official said.

AFP

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