MOSCOW, August 20 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday called on both the Israeli and Palestinian authorities to renew as soon as possible talks on a long-term ceasefire that was hammered out in Egypt’s peace initiative.
"Moscow expresses its serious concern on the new escalation of violence around Gaza that is occurring in breach of agreements on a humanitarian ceasefire that was reached earlier through indirect Palestinian-Israeli contacts in Cairo. We call on the sides to renew the sustained practice of adhering to similar humanitarian pauses in military confrontations and immediately return to discussing the parameters of a long-term ceasefire on the basis of Egypt’s suggested peace initiative," the ministry said on its website.
Military actions resumed in Gaza even before the five-day ceasefire expired at 21:00 GMT on Tuesday and have already led to at least 10 casualties among Palestinians, including the wife and daughter of a Hamas military leader.
Accusing Israel of "opening a gateway to hell," Hamas militants fired three missiles Tuesday night, some eight hours before the planned end of the ceasefire. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded by ordering the Army to resume strikes on the Gaza Strip and instructed the Israeli delegation to return from peace talks in Cairo.
A spokeswoman for the Israeli Army told RIA Novosti that there had been about 60 rockets fired on Israel since Tuesday. Israel has attacked the same number of targets in the Gaza Strip.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday that talks between Israeli and Palestinian forces, mediated by Egypt, must lead to a long-term truce between both sides.
On July 8, Israel launched an offensive against the Hamas movement in response to the military group’s rocket attacks. On July 17, Israel switched to a ground offensive to destroy the network of Hamas tunnels along Gaza’s Israeli border.
According to the United Nations, nearly 2,000 Palestinians and 67 Israelis have lost their lives in Gaza since the beginning of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, mainly civilians.