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Dublin: 13 °C Sunday 26 May, 2019
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End in sight? Israel says it's safe to return to some parts of Gaza

While in Ireland, thousands rallied to protest against the conflict.

THE ISRAELI ARMY has given a first indication it is ending operations in parts of Gaza, while continuing to bombard other areas ahead of fresh truce talks in Cairo.

Meanwhile in Dublin, thousands attended a march from the Garden of Remembrance to the Department of Foreign Affairs, organised by the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC).

Protests took place in other towns and cities across the country.

End in sight? Israel says it's safe to return to some parts of Gaza
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  • Protests in Dublin

    Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland
  • Protests in Dublin

    Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland
  • Protests in Dublin

    Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland
  • Protests in Dublin

    Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland
  • Protests in Dublin

    Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland
  • Protests in Dublin

    Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland
  • Protests in Dublin

    Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland
  • Protests in Dublin

    Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland
  • Protests in Dublin

    Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

“The Minister for Foreign Affairs has made it clear that Ireland will not support any meaningful concrete action aimed at ending either the Israeli onslaught on Gaza or Israeli impunity in general,”  IPSC National Coordinator, Kevin Squires, said.

We find this very disappointing, as Ireland has supported sanctions on other countries in the past, so why not Israel?

“Therefore we are asking people to join us in bringing our anger to the government and demand they take action that will help end Israel’s occupation and serial violations of international law.”

As a Palestinian delegation flew to Egypt in search of a ceasefire, the Israeli army conveyed a message to residents of part of northern Gaza that it was “safe” to return home.

“They have been informed it is safe for civilians to return to Beit Lahiya and Al-Atatra,” a spokeswoman told AFP, in what was understood to be a confirmation that troops had stopped operating there.

Witnesses in the north confirmed seeing troops leaving the area as others seen leaving another flashpoint area in southern Gaza.

It was the first time troops had been seen pulling back since the start of Israel’s devastating 26-day operation, which has so far claimed more than 1,660 Palestinian lives and forced up to a quarter of the territory’s population into exile.

Mideast Israel Palestinians A Palestinians looks for his belongings after a house was destroyed in an Israeli strike in Rafah. Source: AP Photo/Hatem Ali

The move came after an army spokesman told AFP Israel was “quite close to completing” the destruction of tunnels used for infiltrating southern Israel — the main objective of the ground operation.

Despite the partial withdrawal, Israel’s security cabinet decided against sending a delegation to ceasefire talks with the Palestinian delegation in Cairo.

A senior political official quoted by army radio said Hamas was “not interested in an arrangement”, with some commentators suggesting the pullback could signal the start of a unilateral Israeli withdrawal.

Halting fire

But the chances of the sides halting fire seemed remote after Israel said it believed militants had captured a 23-year-old soldier in a Friday morning ambush near the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

Immediately afterwards, Israel bombarded the Rafah area in shelling that is still ongoing, with medics saying it killed 114 people in 24 hours.

Since midnight (2100 GMT), more than 74 people have been killed, the vast majority in Rafah, raising the overall toll to 1,670, emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said.

- © AFP, 2014additional reporting by Nicky Ryan

Read: Hamas denies knowledge of captured soldier as US votes to fund Israel’s Iron Dome >

More: Israel has lost more soldiers during this Palestinian conflict than in the last ten years >

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