Gaza conflict: Over 200,000 displaced as ceasefire holds
Turkey to evacuate thousands in need of advanced medical care from Gaza Strip
The United Nations said over 209,000 people remain displaced in the Gaza Strip on Monday, as a 72-hour ceasefire held.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said, via Twitter, that 209,522 displaced Palestinians remained in its 88 shelters.
There was no fresh violence in the area today, as an Egypt-brokered ceasefire that took hold at midnight local time remained unbroken in the late afternoon. Meanwhile, Israeli and Palestinian authorities resumed negotiations in Egypt with hopes of hammering out a lasting peace deal.
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Amid the temporary calm, several severely wounded Palestinians were flown to Turkey for advanced medical treatment. Turkey has promised to evacuate thousands from the Gaza Strip.
"Our wounded from Gaza have started to come," Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters meeting the flight from Israel's commercial hub Tel Aviv.
Medics carried three Palestinian women and a male youth on stretchers into waiting ambulances at Ankara's Esenboga airport.
Eager to re-establish itself as a powerhouse in a rapidly changing Middle East, Turkey is already sheltering more than a million refugees from the war in Syria and is playing a major role in the development of Iraqi Kurdistan.
Osama Al-Najar, spokesman of the ministry of health in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank, said another 60 wounded people would be flown into Turkey later on Monday.
In Cairo, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said the ceasefire would allow humanitarian aid into battered Gaza neighbourhoods and the reopening of indirect talks on a more lasting and comprehensive deal.
On Monday morning, high school students in Gaza filed the streets as they headed off to pick up their graduation certificates after the Education Ministry said they'd be ready. People waited to buy fuel for generators as power and communication workers struggled to fix cables damaged in the fighting. Long lines formed at ATMs.
In Cairo, negotiators resumed talks shortly after 1 p.m. local time Monday. The four-member Israeli delegation arrived at Cairo International Airport earlier in the morning.
Disagreement over future of blockade
Last week's three-day ceasefire and negotiation process was ultimately fruitless. Egypt had hoped to use that truce to mediate a long-term deal. But when it expired, militants resumed their rocket fire, sparking Israeli reprisals. The violence continued throughout the weekend.
The negotiations, meanwhile, failed in part because Israel rejected Hamas' demand for a complete end to the blockade of the Gaza Strip, enforced by Egypt and Israel. Israel says the closure is necessary to prevent arms smuggling, and officials do not want to make any concessions that would allow Hamas to declare victory.
The blockade has greatly limited the movement of Palestinians in and out of the impoverished territory of 1.8 million people for jobs and schooling. It has also limited the flow of goods into Gaza and blocked virtually all exports. Unemployment there is more than 50 per cent.
Turkish aid group considers new flotilla
The Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) announcement that a coalition of pro-Palestinian activists from 12 countries had decided to launch a convoy "in the shadow of the latest Israeli aggression on Gaza."
"The Freedom Flotilla Coalition affirmed that, as most governments are complicit, the responsibility falls on civil society to challenge the Israeli blockade on Gaza," it said in a statement after the group met in Istanbul at the weekend.
An IHH spokeswoman did not elaborate. The group will hold a news conference on Tuesday, she said.
Nine Turks died in May 2010 in international waters after Israeli soldiers raided their vessel, the Mavi Marmara, leading a flotilla to break Israel's seven-year blockade of Gaza. A 10th Turkish activist died in May from wounds suffered in the attack.
With files from Reuters and CBC News