Israel rejects Gaza ceasefire proposal

The Israeli security cabinet has rejected US-initiated proposals for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip as 33 Paletinians were killed in the 18th day of Israel's campaign against the Palestinian enclave.

Israel TV reported on Friday that the cabinet had rejected the proposal in its current form, mainly because it would mean Israel would cut short an ongoing effort to destroy Hamas military tunnels under the Gaza-Israel border.

The proposal called for a week-long pause in fighting over the Muslim holiday of Eid. During that time, the two sides would begin indirect talks on easing the border closure of the blockaded Gaza Strip.

Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, says any truce must include a guaranteed end to Israel's eight-year siege of the enclave. Israel had previously said it would reject any deal that included a clause to ease the blockade.

At a news conference in Egypt, the US secretary of state, John Kerry, confirmed the rejection but said diplomats were still trying to agree a deal.

"We are working towards a brief seven-day peace in honour of Eid, to bring people together to create a more durable ceasefire," he said.

"We still have terminology and context to work through, but we are confident we have a framework that will work, and we will continue to work for that ... none of us here are stopping."

Kerry met UN chief Ban Ki-moon in Cairo on Friday, and spoke by telephone to his Qatari and Turkish counterparts, who have influence with Hamas.

More deaths as diplomacy stutters

The Israeli offensive on Gaza has continued on Friday on its 18th day.

Palestinian officials said on Friday that Israeli troops and Hamas fighters fought intense battles in the north and centre of the coastal strip, while the Israeli military announced it had hit 45 sites in Gaza.

One Israeli strike killed Salah Hassanein, a senior official from the Islamic Jihad group, and two of his sons, Al Jazeera’s correspondent reported.

Meanwhile, the Israeli army said that its missing soldier, Oron Shaul, had been killed in Gaza, in an attack on an APC on Sunday. Hamas claims to have taken him hostage, and his body has not been recovered.

The Israeli offensive in Gaza has so far killed at least 848 Palestinians, including scores of children, and left more than 5,200 people injured.

Rockets fired from Gaza into Israel have killed two Israeli civilians and a Thai migrant worker.

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