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Israeli minister: Egypt supports demilitarising Gaza

The United States, Egypt and other countries all support making Gaza a demilitarised zone, PLS48 news site reported an Israeli minister as saying.

Israel's Minister of Communication, Gilad Erdan, reportedly made the comments during an interview with Israel Radio, in which he said the ongoing indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinians in Egypt could lead to a possible solution, pointing out that: "Israel does not oppose the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip; but it will not allow the re-strengthening of Hamas and Islamic Jihad militarily."

Erdan, who is also a member of the political and security cabinets, warned that: "If Hamas resumes firing on Israel after the expiration of the current ceasefire, then the Israeli army will increase its retaliation."

Indeed Israel resumed its assault against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Friday morning, when the 72-hour truce expired.

Erdan criticised the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, who himself has sharply criticised Israel over the shelling of UN facilities in Gaza that were sheltering displaced Palestinians during the war. Erdan said: "I am sorry that the UN chief, Ban Ki-moon, is not fully aware of the reality on the ground."

Israel and the Palestinian resistance factions agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire that began on Tuesday morning under Egyptian auspices to make way for negotiations on a longer lasting truce. Since then, Egyptian intelligence has been conducting separate talks between the Palestinian and Israeli delegations in Cairo.

However, the ceasefire expired without any tangible results.

The war launched by Israel on the Gaza Strip on 7 July has so far killed 1,886 Palestinians, wounding nearly 10,000 others, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry of Health.

Meanwhile, official Israeli reports say that 64 soldiers and three civilians were killed and 1,008 more were wounded, including 651 soldiers and 357 civilians; but the Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, claims it has killed 161 soldiers and captured another.

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