Crunch Time for Gaza Truce Talks As Death Toll Passes 800
Definitely not the headline I wanted to wake up to. Hopefully Hamas aren’t tweaking the number of civilian deaths.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pressed regional leaders to nail down a Gaza ceasefire on Friday as the civilian death toll soared, and further violence loomed between Israelis and Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem.
With Israel and Hamas-led Islamist fighters setting seemingly irreconcilable terms for a truce that mediators hope will begin by a Muslim festival next week, Kerry worked the phones from Egypt, while aides made clear his patience was waning.
The urgency was spurred on Thursday by the killing of 15 people as they sheltered at a U.N.-run school in the northern Gaza Strip, which local officials blamed on Israeli shelling.
Israel said its forces had come under attack from Palestinian guerrillas in the area of the school and that they had shot back. It accused Hamas of preventing any evacuation.
Gaza officials said Israeli strikes killed 27 people on Friday, including the head of media operations for Hamas ally Islamic Jihad and his son. They put the number of Palestinian deaths in 18 days of conflict at 819, most of them civilians.
More from Reuters.