GAZA CITY: Five Palestinians and an Italian journalist were killed in Gaza on Wednesday when Israeli ordnance detonated as experts tried to disable it just hours before the end of a 72-hour truce.
The blast occurred in the northern town of Beit Lahiya as Egyptian mediators scrambled to persuade Israeli and Palestinian negotiators to extend a three-day ceasefire, which expired midnight on Wednesday.
Without agreement on an extension or a long-term truce, the two sides risk a resumption of the deadly fighting, which began on July 8.
The AP news agency confirmed that one of its journalists and a freelance Palestinian translator had been killed in the blast, identifying them as Simone Camilli, a 35-year-old cameraman from Italy, and Ali Shehda Abu Afash, 36.
Know more: Israel targeting journalists, says CPJ
Camilli is the first foreign journalist die in the violence in Gaza, which has killed more than 1,950 Palestinians and 67 on the Israeli side.
Deadline looms: As the night fell on three days of calm in and around Gaza and with no concrete word on the talks in Cairo, both sides were readying for a possible resumption of hostilities as the midnight deadline drew closer.
“We have already sacrified 64 men and it is possible we may have to sacrifice more,” Israel’s Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Benny Gantz said at a military ceremony on Wednesday evening, his remarks broadcast on army radio.
“It is possible that the operation is not ended and is not completed,” he said.
And on the ground in Gaza, many were concerned that violence would resume.
“We’re all worried, it’s natural,” said Hussein Abu Haseera, sitting outside his air conditioning shop in Gaza City’s Rimal neighbourhood.
“We want this to be finished, for the blockade to be lifted. No one likes dying do they? “In Cairo, the truce talks at the General Intelligence headquarters were expected to run until late as Egyptian mediators raced to bridge the gaps between the two sides.
By the time the deadline passes, the two sides must have agreed on a permanent ceasefire, accepted an extension of the truce or risk a resumption of more than a month of bloody fighting.
Published in Dawn, August 14th, 2014