Israel kills three Palestinians, injures 240 and empty 'Al Aqsa' of worshippers

Trucks full of goods arriving from Israel depart from the Palestinian side of the Kerem Shalom cargo crossing in Rafah southern Gaza Strip. —AP

Anger in Gaza has also been stoked by funding cuts by the Western-backed administration of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, which dominates the West Bank and is the rival of Hamas, which runs Gaza.

According to Al-Hayat newspaper, Egyptian intelligence director Abbas Kamel held a secret meeting with Israeli officials in Tel Aviv on Wednesday to finalize the details of a long-term ceasefire.

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"The period of calm will be for one year, during which contacts will be held to extend it for another four years", the source told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

More than 169 Palestinians have been killed and 17,500 others injured since the outbreak of the Gaza border protests on March 30. That meeting will take place in Ramallah, the PA's seat of power.

Abdulatif al-Qanou'a, Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said in an emailed statement that the Great March of Return will continue "until it achieves its goals".

In his interview with a Palestinian radio station al-Ahmad added that "what is happening is not negotiations but rather a resolution festival", and stated that "our government has no time for futile celebrations, not all factions participated in the talks and we were surprised to discover the names of some movements that did participate".

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Israel on Wednesday opened its only cargo crossing with the Gaza Strip weeks after closing it amid a surge in violence with the Islamic militant group Hamas.

The deal also includes establishing a "naval ‎corridor" between Cyprus and Gaza through which ‎goods could be delivered to Gaza, as well as ‎the construction of a port in the ‎Sinai Peninsula, which would operate under Israeli ‎security supervision to send goods to ‎Gaza.

The reopening of the Kerem Shalom crossing came as Egypt was stepping up efforts to broker a lasting cease-fire.

Israel says its blockade is a self-defense measure against Hamas, a group that has called for its destruction.

At least 170 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip by Israeli fire in weekly border demonstrations.

The residents, who have already experienced five ‎‎violated ceasefires in recent months, said they ‎‎believe a large military operation in the Gaza ‎‎Strip is unavoidable.‎.

"That's the only way", Israeli Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, a member of Netanyahu's security cabinet, said on Thursday when asked if a broad arrangement depended on the return of the soldiers' bodies.

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