4 killed in Israeli air strikes on 49th day of Gaza war

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Gaza/Jerusalem, Aug 25: Intensifying its military offensive in Gaza, Israel today pounded Hamas targets in the coastal strip with air strikes and tanks, killing at least four Palestinians on the 49th day of the war which has left nearly 2,200 people dead.

Since midnight, Israeli air strikes on northern Gaza have killed four Palestinians, including two women and a three-year-old boy, medics said. About 38 rockets fired from Gaza struck Israel's south yesterday, while another was shot down, the army said.

Meanwhile, attempts are on to reach an agreement on yet another temporary ceasefire which would see the delegations return to Cairo to resume talks on an Egyptian proposal to broker a more permanent end to the fighting.

"There is an idea for a temporary ceasefire that opens the crossings, allows aid and reconstruction material, and the disputed points will be discussed in a month," a senior Palestinian official said in Cairo.

"We would be willing to accept this, but are waiting for the Israeli response to this proposal," he said, requesting anonymity because of the sensitivity of the negotiations. Another Palestinian official said Egypt might invite Palestinian and Israeli negotiating teams to return to Cairo within 48 hours. "Efforts are ongoing to reach an agreement," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said without giving details.

Daud Shihab, Islamic Jihad's spokesman, also confirmed such efforts were under way. "The success of contacts (talks) to reach a ceasefire depends on Palestinian demands being met," he said.

There was no immediate comment from Israel, with the government saying Israel's position of no negotiations under fire had "not changed". Egypt has repeatedly urged all parties to accept an open-ended truce and return to the negotiating table in Cairo.

The Palestinian death toll in Gaza now stands at 2,124 with more than 10,500 injured, since the start of Israel's military operation on July 8. 68 Israelis have died, 64 of them soldiers, and the Jewish state has come under heavy rocket and mortar attack.

PTI

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