Truce elusive as Hamas Israel stick to positions

first_imgGAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — The top Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip signaled Monday that the Islamic militant group will not agree to an unconditional cease-fire with Israel, while Israel’s defense minister pledged to keep fighting “as long as necessary” — raising new doubt about the highest-level mediation mission in two weeks.U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry were heading to Cairo on Monday to try to end the deadliest conflict between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers in just over five years.Meanwhile, cross-border fighting continued unabated, with Israeli strikes leaving entire families buried under rubble and Hamas militants firing more than 50 rockets and trying to sneak into Israel through two tunnels, the latest in a series of such attempts.For the second day in a row, the daily Palestinian death toll surpassed 100 on Monday, pushing the total number killed since the new round of fighting began on July 8 to at least 566, Palestinian officials said, adding that some 3,350 have been wounded.Seven Israeli soldiers also were killed Monday in clashes with Palestinian militants, the Israeli military said. That raised the overall Israeli death toll to 27, including two civilians. The Israeli military said four soldiers were killed in a firefight with Hamas fighters trying to sneak into Israel through a tunnel, and that the other three were killed in battles in Gaza.last_img read more