As a cease fire between Israel and Hamas enters its second day, the country and Islamic militant group began indirect talks on a new border deal, according to the Associated Press.
Israel wants Hamas to disarm or at least ensure it cannot re-arm before considering the group's demand that the territory's borders be opened. Israel and Egypt enacted a closure after the Hamas takeover of Gaza in 2007. A Palestinian leader told the AP that the most important thing is removing the blockade and start reconstructing Gaza, and no deal would be done without it.
The cease fire is set to expire Friday morning and would likely be extended if more time for talks is needed. Outlines of a possible solution have emerged, including internationally funded reconstruction of Gaza overseen by a Palestinian unity government led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the AP reported. Abbas lost control of Gaza in the Hamas takeover in 2007.
It's the longest break in a month-long war that has killed nearly 1,900 Palestinians, 75 percent of them civilians, according to the United Nations. Israel has lost 67 people, including three civilians. The war broke out on July 8 when the Israeli military began bombing targets in Gaza in an attempt to stop Hamas from launching rockets at Israel. Nine days later, it sent in ground troops to destroy underground tunnels it said were built to attack Israel.
Tensions rose leading up to the war, following the June killings of three Israeli teenagers and Israel accused Hamas of being behind the abductions. In early July, an Arab teenager was abducted and burned alive by Israeli extremists in an apparent revenge attack. Today, Israel's Justice Ministry told the AP that it had arrested Hussam al-Qawasmi, the suspect behind the killing of the Israeli teens.
Now that villages are calm, people of Gaza are returning to their homes to inspect damages and salvage their belongings. Crews from utility companies are working to restore electricity as the area's only power plant was shut down after it was damaged by an Israeli attack and the repairs are expected to take months, the AP reported.
Over the coming days, Egyptian mediators plan to go between the Israeli and Palestinian delegations to try and work out an agreement. United States Secretary of State John Kerry urged both sides to take advantage of the Gaza truce to move toward broader negotiations, according to a report by the Washington Post.