Sisi: Egypt’s plan ‘real chance’ to end Gaza crisis

Palestinian delegation heads to Cairo for talks on ending the conflict that has killed around 2,000 Palestinians in less than a month

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Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on Saturday a Gaza ceasefire plan his country had put forward represented a “real chance” to end the fighting between Israel and Hamas.

"The Egyptian initiative is a real chance to find a real solution to the crisis taking place in the Gaza Strip," he told reporters in Cairo during a joint news conference with Italy’s prime minister, Matteo Renzi.

The Egyptian leader also warned that time wasted would only further complicate matters, adding that "if Egypt’s initial proposal had been accepted, many civilian lives would have been spared."

Sisi’s comments came as a Palestinian delegation headed to Cairo for talks on ending the conflict that has killed around 2,000 Palestinians in less than a month.

However, Israel announced Saturday that it will not send a delegation to Cairo to participate in the truce talks with Palestinian factions, Reuters reported.

Both Israel and Hamas have violated a series of ceasefire calls since the offensive against the Gaza Strip began on July 8.

Israel had accepted a Gaza ceasefire proposed by Egypt last July. However, Hamas rejected the plan.

The most recent ceasefire, announced Thursday night and initially agreed to last 72-hours, was violated a couple of hours after had it begun. Israel abandoned the truce after reports that one of its soldiers had been kidnapped. Israel holds Hamas responsible for the reported kidnapping.

Following the collapse of the 72- hour truce, U.S. President Barack Obama urged Hamas – assuming they had violated the ceasefire – to show that they are “serious about resolving the situation.”

He admitted that brokering a new ceasefire was “challenging” and demanded an “unconditional immediate” release of the Israeli soldier.

At least 160 Palestinians were killed on Friday after the truce’s collapse, as Israel broadened its offensive, which it claims is for destroying tunnels used by militants to stage attacks inside its territory.

(With AFP and Reuters)

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