Gaza death toll rises above 2,000

The Gaza Strip has been ravaged by more than a month of fighting that left 1,980 Palestinians dead and caused several billion dollars worth of damage in the territory.

The Gaza Strip has been ravaged by more than a month of fighting that left 1,980 Palestinians dead and caused several billion dollars worth of damage in the territory.

The Gaza Strip has been ravaged by more than a month of fighting that left 1,980 Palestinians dead and caused several billion dollars worth of damage in the territory.

The death toll in the war-torn Gaza Strip rose above 2,000 Monday, the health ministry said as more people injured in over a month of fighting with the Israelis succumbed to their wounds.

According to a ministry statement, a total of 2,016 people were killed and another 10,196 wounded.

Among the dead were 541 children, 250 women and 95 elderly men, it said.

The toll, which had stood at 1,980, jumped up after a number of people died from their injuries in hospitals across Gaza, as well as in Cairo and Jerusalem where they had been taken for treatment.

Medics also retrieved another body from under the rubble in the battered Shejaiya district east of Gaza City, where it had lain for more than three weeks, the statement said.

Separately, the Israeli army confirmed that five of 64 soldiers killed in combat had died as a result of “friendly fire”.

There was no immediate word on the circumstances of their deaths.

The death toll in the war-torn Gaza Strip rose above 2,000 Monday, the health ministry said as more people injured in over a month of fighting with the Israelis succumbed to their wounds.

According to a ministry statement, a total of 2,016 people were killed and another 10,196 wounded.

Among the dead were 541 children, 250 women and 95 elderly men, it said.

The toll, which had stood at 1,980, jumped up after a number of people died from their injuries in hospitals across Gaza, as well as in Cairo and Jerusalem where they had been taken for treatment.

Medics also retrieved another body from under the rubble in the battered Shejaiya district east of Gaza City, where it had lain for more than three weeks, the statement said.

Separately, the Israeli army confirmed that five of 64 soldiers killed in combat had died as a result of “friendly fire”.

There was no immediate word on the circumstances of their deaths.

Peace talks in Cairo

Meanwhile, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in Egypt-mediated Gaza truce talks hardened their positions Monday ahead of the expiration of a five-day cease-fire, though both sides appear reluctant to return to the deadly all-out fighting that has destroyed large parts of the densely-populated coastal strip.

Since last week, indirect talks have been taking place in Cairo through Egyptian mediators in an effort to broker a substantive end to the war and draw up a roadmap for Gaza.

On Sunday, Palestinian and Israeli delegations resumed the talks following weekend consultations across the Middle East but gaps between the two sides remain wide, with each staking out maximalist positions.

The Gaza blockade, imposed by Israel and Egypt since Hamas took control of the strip in 2007, remains the main stumbling block. It has greatly limited the movement of Palestinians in and out of the territory of 1.8 million people, restricted the flow of goods into Gaza and blocked virtually all exports.

A Palestinian negotiator, Qais Abdul Karim, said that on Sunday, Israel pressed for guarantees that Hamas and other militant factions in Gaza would be disarmed, while the Palestinians demanded an end to the blockade without preconditions.

“The war is behind us now,” he told the Associated Press. “We are not returning to war.”

Hamas has repeatedly said it will not give up its weapons, while Israel says it needs to maintain some degree of control over Gaza crossings to prevent the smuggling of weapons and weapons production materials into the Palestinian enclave.

Karim also said Egyptian mediators have pressed the Palestinians to present compromise proposals on the border crossing issue.

The Palestinian delegation was in a meeting in the early hours Monday over it but the outcome was not immediately known.

Donor conference

International donors will meet in Cairo to pledge funds for the reconstruction of Gaza as soon as a lasting ceasefire is reached between Israel and the Palestinians, Norway announced Monday.

The funds raised under the aegis of Egypt and Norway will be released to Palestinian Authority president Mahmud Abbas, said Norwegian Foreign Minister Boerge Brende, whose country heads the international coordination committee for aid to the Palestinians.

The Gaza Strip has been ravaged by more than a month of fighting that left 1,980 Palestinians dead and caused several billion dollars worth of damage in the territory.

The statement came as crucial ceasefire talks were under way in Cairo and the clock ticked down to a midnight (2100 GMT) deadline ending a five-day truce to enable negotiators to broker a long-term end to the bloodshed.

Norway noted that it was the third time in a few years that international donors will have been called on to finance Gaza reconstruction, and demanded new conditions.

“We cannot expect the international community to finance reconstruction once again” without prior conditions, Brende said in a statement.

In particular, he called for an end to the eight-year-old Israeli blockade of Gaza and for security guarantees for civilians on both sides of the border.

“Keeping people hemmed in and on the brink of famine will not guarantee the security of Gaza’s neighbours,” he said.

 
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