CAIRO -- Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in Egypt-mediated Gaza truce talks hardened their positions Monday ahead of the expiration of a five-day cease-fire, though both sides appeared reluctant to return to the deadly all-out fighting that has destroyed large parts of the densely-populated coastal strip. The month-long Israel-Hamas war has killed more than 1,900 Palestinians, the majority of them civilians, according to Palestinian and U.N. officials. Israel has lost 67 people, all but three of them soldiers.
Since last week, indirect talks have been taking place in Cairo through Egyptian mediators in an effort to broker a substantive end to the war and draw up a roadmap for Gaza. On Sunday, Palestinian and Israeli delegations resumed the talks following weekend consultations across the Middle East but gaps between the two sides remain wide. The current five-day cease-fire ends at midnight local time (5 p.m. ET) Monday but Ziad Nakhleh, head of the Islamic Jihad faction within the Palestinian delegation in Cairo, said he expects it to be extended if a deal is not reached by then. "The war is behind us now," he told the AP. "We are not returning to war."
- The Associated Press