GAZA/JERUSALEM: Bloodbath in Gaza continued unabated Sunday with Israeli jets pounding the coastal strip, as talks to end the conflict that has killed over 2,000 people virtually collapsed after Palestinians threatened to quit unless Israel returned to the negotiating table.
Talks in Cairo aimed at securing a fresh ceasefire in Gaza came under renewed strain Sunday, with both sides in the conflict issuing warnings.
Palestinian negotiators said they would leave if Israel did not attend without preconditions.
“If the Israelis do not come, we will leave to consult with our leadership,” said Izzat Al-Risheq, a member of the Palestinian negotiation team. “We gave our demands to the Egyptian delegation seven days ago. We have not received any official response yet.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday said Israel will not return to talks while Palestinian militants continue cross-border rocket attacks.
“Israel will not engage in negotiations under fire, and will continue to act in every way to change the current reality and to bring quiet to all of its citizens,” he told a cabinet meeting at the defence ministry in Tel Aviv.
Meanwhile, hostilities have continued unabated since the collapse of the three-day truce on Friday with the Israeli military hitting 150 targets, killing 15 people, and Palestinian militants firing more than 100 rockets into Israel.
The Israeli air force struck at least 20 targets in Gaza overnight. There was no let up in violence with a 17-year-old boy killed in an Israeli strike on central Gaza, medics said.
Tensions have also been growing in the West Bank where protesters clashed with Israeli troops.
A 11-year-old Palestinian boy was shot dead by Israeli troops in a refugee camp in the southern West Bank Sunday.
Over a month of bloody fighting has killed more than 2,000 Palestinians and 67 in Israel, most of them soldiers. About 10,000 people have been injured in the conflict.
The UK, France and Germany have called for a new truce to be agreed, after last week’s ceasefire was not renewed.
Israeli negotiators have already left Egypt and said they would not return to the indirect negotiations until rocket fire from Gaza stops.
Palestinians have asked for Israel to lift its blockade on Gaza and to re-open the air and seaports.
Israeli authorities fear Hamas could import weapons by sea and maintains a ship blockade off Gaza’s shores.
Bloodbath in Gaza continues, peace process in tatters