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Israel refuses to "negotiate under fire": Netanyahu

Israel will not return to talks to end the conflict in Gaza while Palestinian militants continue cross-border rocket attacks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday (Aug 10).

TEL AVIV: Israel will not return to talks to end the conflict in Gaza while Palestinian militants continue cross-border rocket attacks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday (Aug 10).

"Israel will not engage in negotiations under fire, and will continue to act in every way to change the current reality and to bring quiet to all of its citizens," he told a cabinet meeting at the defence ministry in Tel Aviv, his office said.

His remarks came as Palestinian negotiators in Cairo threatened to abandon efforts to broker an end to more than a month of bloodshed in Gaza if Israel did not send a team to join the talks by 1300 GMT on Sunday. Israel pulled its team out of the Cairo talks on Friday after it accused Hamas of breaching a three-day ceasefire and rocket fire on southern Israel resumed.

Netanyahu said there was no end in sight to the Israeli operation, which began with an air campaign on July 8. A ground assault launched on July 17 ended when troops pulled out last Tuesday. Israel has retained forces along the Gaza border and carried out scores of air strikes over targets in the Gaza Strip since the 72-hour truce expired on Friday morning.

"Operation Protective Edge is continuing, at no stage did we say it was over. The operation will continue until we achieve our objectives - the return of quiet for a prolonged period," Netanyahu said. "It will take time and we need patience.”

Ahead of the cabinet meeting, two ministers called for troops to go back in to Gaza and topple Hamas, the de facto power in the battered Palestinian enclave.

"This situation cannot continue," Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told reporters. "There is no doubt that the only thing left to do now is to overpower Hamas, clean out the territory and get out as quickly as possible."

Interior Minister Gideon Saar agreed. "What we must do is break the military power of Hamas in Gaza," he said, without elaborating.

"PALESTINIAN BOY KILLED"

An 11-year-old Palestinian boy was shot dead by Israeli troops in a refugee camp in the southern West Bank on Sunday, relatives and Palestinian medics said. Khalil Mohammed al-Anati had been playing outside his home at one end of Al-Fawwar refugee camp, southwest of the flashpoint city of Hebron, when an Israeli unit moved into the area, his uncle told AFP.

"We don't know what they (the Israelis) were doing," said Yussef al-Anati, crying, his shirt soaked in blood after carrying his nephew to hospital. "Khalil was playing in front of the house, then we heard gunfire. The kid was screaming and fell down," he said. "He was shot in the back and the bullet exited through his stomach."

A medical official confirmed his death. The Israeli military said it was looking into the reports. Dozens of relatives and people gathered outside the morgue where the child's body was taken. The funeral was to be held later Sunday.

Sunday's shooting followed two consecutive days of clashes in the West Bank between Israeli troops and Palestinians protesting against Israel's ongoing offensive in the Gaza Strip. On Saturday, 15 Palestinians were injured in Hebron when troops dispersed stone throwers with tear gas, stun grenades, rubber bullets and live fire after the funeral of a Palestinian man shot dead by Israeli forces at a Gaza protest on Friday.


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