TEL AVIV, August 10 (RIA Novosti) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to return the country's delegation to Cairo for Gaza talks on Sunday unless the Palestinian militants stop the shelling of the country's territory.
"Israel will not negotiate under fire," Netanyahu said at a Cabinet meeting.
The Palestinian delegation, which arrived in Cairo for Gaza talks, said it would leave Egypt’s capital Sunday, if Israel did not return to negotiations on ceasefire under the existing conditions, the head of the delegation Azzam Ahmed said Saturday, Reuters reported.
Earlier reports said that Palestinian militants had resumed attacks against Israel launching more than ten rockets after a three-day ceasefire in the Gaza Strip ended Friday morning. Israel responded with renewed Gaza shelling and withdrew from the ceasefire negotiations in Cairo.
Fighting between Israel and Hamas militants has not abated for a month, since Israel launched its Gaza offensive on July 8, targeting the Hamas movement and its allied groups of rebels. On July 17, Tel Aviv switched to a ground offensive to destroy the network of Hamas tunnels around the border area.
The conflict has claimed the lives of about 1,900 Palestinians, most of them civilians, and 67 Israeli citizens.
Netanyahu said the operation would continue until peace is restored for a long period.
“I said at the beginning of the campaign that it will take time, and patience is needed,” Netanyahu told the ministers.
International efforts have been launched to make the two sides come to terms with each other and broker a longer-lasting truce.
The latest ceasefire was the longest lull in the fighting. Hamas refused to extend the ceasefire after Egypt-mediated talks in Cairo on a new border deal for the coastal strip hit a snag. The Palestinians wanted Israel to agree to demands, including an end to the long-standing Gaza blockade.