Kerry to announce Gaza cease-fire proposal

 

Secretary of State John Kerry has proposed a weeklong halt to fighting in the Gaza Strip, according to a Friday report.

Kerry, who met with officials in Cairo Thursday, is expected to announce the cease-fire formally on Friday. Israel’s security Cabinet is scheduled to convene in Tel Aviv at 3 p.m. to discuss the proposal.

If the cease-fire is accepted, an official told The New York Times that Palestinian and Israeli officials would begin negotiations regarding political, economic and security issues in Gaza.

It’s unclear, however, if Hamas would accept the plan. The group’s political leader, Khaled Meshal, has said he wouldn’t accept a cease-fire until the economic blockade on Gaza is removed, among other things, the Times noted.

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Israel has welcomed and abided by each proposed cease-fire in the conflict so far, but Hamas has violated the deals each time. 

The possible cease-fire comes a day after 16 people died, including women and children, in Gaza, after a United Nations school that had been used as a shelter was struck. It's unclear which side was responsible. 

Israeli aircraft, meanwhile, struck 30 houses in Gaza early Friday, The Associated Press reports, killing a leader of the military wing of Islamic Jihad and two of his sons; the group is the second-largest militant group in Gaza. 

As of Friday, the Palestinian death toll in Gaza climbed to more than 815. Thirty-four Israelis have died in the conflict, which has now lasted more than two weeks.

Israel launched its ground operation into Gaza July 18 in an effort to destroy Hamas-built tunnels that lead into Israel.