Palestinians accuse Israel of violating Gaza truce


The Palestinian Interior Ministry in Gaza accused Israel on Friday of a cross-border shooting in violation of a truce that has largely held since getting off to a shaky start on Thursday.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said: “We have no knowledge of such an incident.”

The Palestinian ministry in the coastal territory dominated by Hamas Islamists said Israeli troops shot at houses east of the town of Khan Younis.

The cease-fire, renewed on Thursday for five days after a previous truce expired, has largely halted more than a month of fighting in which 1,945 Palestinians, many of them civilians, 64 Israeli soldiers and three civilians in Israel were killed.

The truce got off to a rocky start with Israel launching an air raid early on Thursday in response to rocket fire from Gaza in violation of the earlier truce.

There were no reported casualties in any of these incidents.

The latest cease-fire, mediated by Egypt, gave the parties an additional five days, until late on Monday to come up with a comprehensive agreement to end the war in Gaza.

Negotiations hosted in Cairo were expected to reconvene on Sunday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet debated the emerging deal at a meeting held behind closed-doors on Friday, after a protest by 10,000 Israelis in Tel Aviv, angry at the war's inconclusive results and the prospect of facing more rocket fire from Gaza once the truce comes to an end.

An Israeli official said after Friday's meeting that any deal struck in Egypt had to “provide clearly for security arrangements” for Israel. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, declined to elaborate.

Few precise details of the indirect negotiations have emerged, but the broad outlines are well known: the Palestinians want an end to Israel's blockade of Gaza, an extension of the strip's maritime and security boundaries and the building of a sea port and reopening of an airport in the enclave.

For their part, the Israelis want an end to rocket fire from Gaza, the full demilitarisation of the territory, and for the Palestinian Authority headed by Western-allied President Mahmoud Abbas to take over responsibility for managing Gaza's 12 km (7.5 mile) border with Egypt at Rafah, an effort to prevent the smuggling of weapons and other military-use equipment.

Explosions, gunfire heard around Kabul International Airport


Insurgents launched a pre-dawn attack on Afghanistan's main international airport in the capital, Kabul, on Monday, police said, with explosions and gunfire heard coming from an area that also houses major foreign military bases.

There were no immediate reports of casualties and there was also no early claim of responsibility for the attack.

Attacks on the heavily guarded airport, used by civilians and the military, are relatively rare and would represent an ambitious target for insurgents, with recent assaults staged against less well-protected targets.

The airport, by comparison, is home to a major operational base for NATO-led forces that have been fighting Taliban and other insurgents for 12 years and is bristling with soldiers and police, guard towers and several lines of security checkpoints.

Police said the attack appeared to be centred on the military side of the airport, to the west of the civilian terminal.

“Gunmen have entered a house under construction in the west of Kabul airport and are fighting with security forces,” Kabul police spokesman Hashmatullah Stanekzai said.

“Their target is Kabul airport and all roads to it are sealed,” he said.

A spokesman for the Afghan Air Force, which is also based at the facility, also said the airport was the target of the attack. There are also a number of logistics bases in the area.

The attack began at about 4.30 a.m. (2400 GMT). Embassies in the diplomatic zone in the centre of Kabul were quickly locked down and emergency alarms were heard ringing loudly from the British embassy.

Reuters witnesses reported hearing explosions at the airport, with reports of rocket-propelled grenades and gunfire. Blasts still being heard an hour after the attack was launched.

Concerns are mounting over how the 352,000-strong Afghan security forces will cope with an intensifying insurgency once most foreign combat troops leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

The airport attack came soon after assaults on the International Organisation for Migration in Kabul and against the International Committee of the Red Cross in the eastern city of Jalalabad.

Four people were killed and three wounded in those attacks.

In April 2011, a rogue Afghan air force officer shot and killed eight U.S. servicemen and a civilian contractor in the worst attack at the airport since the war began.

Additional reporting by Dylan Welch and Omar Sobhani; Writing by Dylan Welch; Editing by Paul Tait

Soldier, Palestinian die in Gaza border shootout


A Palestinian gunman and an Israeli soldier were killed in a shootout on the Gaza Strip-Israel border.

The Israeli army said the gunman breached the fence at about 5 a.m. on Friday.

A border patrol detected the breach and confronted the gunman.

He opened fire and killed a solider, and was himself killed in return fire.

The army said the gunman intended an attack on civilians.

Neither Hamas nor Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the infiltration.

“The IDF will act against any entity that operates against the State of Israel,” said an Israeli army statement quoted by Haaretz. “The army views Hamas as responsible for all that occurs in the Gaza Strip.”

Air force planes later struck open fields in Gaza, the newspaper said.

Gunmen fire on Israeli troops at Gaza border


Palestinian gunmen fired on Israeli soldiers working on the border fence between Israel and Gaza.

The soldiers were conducting what the Israeli military called routine work on the fence near Kibbutz Zikim and northern Gaza on Thursday. An Israel Defense Forces vehicle was damaged in the attack, which included mortar shells.

Israeli troops returned fire in the direction of the attack, assisted by an air strike by the Israel Air Force. Palestinian hospital sources told Israeli media that two of the Palestinian attackers were killed in the reprisal attack.

Palestinian sources told Israeli media that the soldiers were shot upon after they illegally entered Gaza.

There have been no rockets shot at Israel from Gaza since Tuesday evening, after a barrage of more than 40 rockets struck Israeli over three days.

Israeli, Lebanese troops exchange fire


Israeli and Lebanese troops exchanged fire on Israel’s northern border; no Israeli soldiers were injured.

The gunfight is the first skirmish on the Israel-Lebanon border since May when Nakba Day protesters attempted to breach Israel’s border. Ten protesters died and more than 100 were injured in that incident.

On Monday morning, Lebanese soldiers opened fire at Israel Defense Forces paratroopers who were on patrol and Israeli forces returned fire, according to reports, some of which say that the paratroopers were taking part in a training exercise. Lebanon says that the Israeli soldiers had entered their territory.

Lebanese sources say one of its soldiers was hurt, but the UNIFIL peacekeeping force has reported that there were no injuries. UNIFIL is investigating the incident but reportedly said that Israeli troops had not crossed into Lebanese territory.

“Israel is not looking to inflame the border,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said following the clash, during a meeting of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. He asserted that the soldiers acted appropriately, saying: “There was an incident, the soldiers in the area acted as necessary. They are determined to protect themselves and the border.”

Lebanese President Michel Suleiman said following the incident that Israel was “renewing its aggression” on the border.

The border remained quiet following the incident.

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