Palestinian president lashes out at USA over Gaza situation

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a press conference

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a press conference

In the latest flare-up of tension between Israel and the Palestinians, three Palestinians were killed and 240 injured by Israeli fire on the 21st Friday of protests near the Gaza border, as part of the "Return March" to break the siege of Jerusalem and Al Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem.

A delegation of Palestinian resistance factions set out for Cairo from the blockaded Gaza Strip on Thursday for talks with Egyptian officials about the prospects for de-escalation with Israel.

Israel's military said some Palestinians also threw improvised explosives and firebombs at the fence and that several were spotted briefly crossing into Israeli territory.

Even amid the reports a long-term agreement, Hamas has fired rockets into Israel, which has responded with retaliatory air strikes.

The campaign is pressing for rights to land that Palestinians lost to Israel in the 1948 war of its foundation, and for an end to the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza.

Israel also returned the fishing zone it enforces off the strip to nine nautical miles in the south of the enclave. The limit is six nautical miles in the north, which borders Israel.

On July 9, Israeli authorities closed the crossing to most deliveries, partly in response to kites and balloons being flown across the border carrying firebombs to burn Israeli farmland, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage.

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If the Egyptian version happens, the cost will be great - both in terms of real dollars spent in the Gaza Strip and in terms of real political prestige accruing to Hamas.

A Hamas source told MEE that the United States has reportedly given Egypt the green light to mediate between Hamas and Israel regardless of whether a Palestinian unity deal is achieved - a move which has angered the Palestinian Authority.

Two Palestinians have been shot dead by Israeli troops during protests along the Gaza border today.

However, Israeli media reports said that during the protests, a Palestinian threw a hand grenade at Israeli soldiers, adding that the soldiers opened fire and shot him.

However an Israeli diplomatic source said Wednesday that Israel would not agree to a "real arrangement" that did not include Hamas releasing Israeli captives and continued calm on the volatile border with Gaza.

Cairo has also been seeking to reconcile Hamas with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah after more than a decade of bitter division.

Other ministers noted that less than a year ago the cabinet rejected any possible contact between Israel and a Palestinian unity government that included Hamas.

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