07/25/2014, 00.00
ISRAEL - PALESTINE
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As efforts to stop the war in Gaza intensify, death toll tops 800

Israel and Hamas are vetting a proposal US Secretary of State John Kerry for a temporary ceasefire, during which the parties meet to seek a wider agreement with Egypt's mediation. Yesterday, Israel hit a UN hospital in Gaza, killing at least 15 civilians.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - After 18 days of the war, the death has topped 800 in the Gaza Strip, plus two Palestinians killed during a protest march from Ramallah to Jerusalem. Israel is counting its own dead, 39 and almost 200 injured. Meanwhile diplomatic efforts are intensifying to find ways to stop the conflict.

According to Haaretz, Israel and Hamas are examining the latest proposal made by US Secretary of State, John Kerry, which includes a week-long humanitarian ceasefire, starting Sunday, during which the various sides would meet to look for a broader understanding in talks brokered by Egypt. The Palestinian Authority would also attend. The United States, United Nations and the European Union would act as guarantors for the parties.

The Israeli cabinet was expected to discuss the plan on Friday afternoon, but it has several hurdle before it can be accepted, starting with Israel's plan to keep its troops within the Gaza strip during the truce.

Hamas's political leader, Khaled Meshal, has stated that he would not accept an enduring cease-fire until his demands were met, including the lifting of an economic blockade on Gaza. "We want a ceasefire as soon as possible, that's parallel with the lifting of the siege of Gaza," he said.

This is not very likely. Neither side is likely to accept such conditions. Still, a Palestinian official did suggest once the parties agree to the seven-day humanitarian truce "then everyone comes to Cairo for the talks".

Meanwhile, as diplomats try to stop the conflict, people continue to die. Yesterday, Israel hit a UN hospital in Gaza, killing at least 15 civilians. UN workers were also affected.

UN chief Ban Ki-Moon said he was "appalled" at the shelling, which "underscores the imperative for the killing to stop - and to stop now".

Washington said it was "deeply saddened and concerned about the tragic incident", which occurred a day after the UN human rights committee criticised both Israel and Hamas.

The hospital bombing was not the only dramatic event yesterday. Two Palestinians were killed in clashes with Israeli soldiers who stopped more than 10,000 people from a refugee camp near Ramallah, in the West Bank, marching towards Jerusalem to protest Israel's Gaza offensive. At least 108 Palestinians were injured in the clashes.

Yesterday's events near Jerusalem could happen today. With Ramadan coming to an end, this Friday President Mahmoud Abbas declared a "day of rage". Jerusalem, where protests took place yesterday, has been turned into an armed camp.

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