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Egypt brokering cease-fire between Israel and Palestinians

JTA

June 21, 2012 | 2:42 pm

A house damaged after a rocket fired by Palestinian militants in Gaza landed in Kibbutz Sa'ad outside the central Gaza Strip on June 20. Photo by REUTERS/Nir Elias

A house damaged after a rocket fired by Palestinian militants in Gaza landed in Kibbutz Sa'ad outside the central Gaza Strip on June 20. Photo by REUTERS/Nir Elias

As rockets continued to fall on southern Israel, Egypt reportedly was working to broker a cease-fire between Israel and Palestinian terror groups in Gaza.

There was little information reported about Thursday’s cease-fire talks, which are aimed at stopping the terror groups’ rocket attacks on southern Israel and retaliatory strikes by Israel.

Elementary schools, in session until the end of the month, were closed in Ashkelon on Thursday after two rockets were fired at the southern city early that morning. One was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.

Several mortars and Kassam rockets also were fired at Israel on Thursday.

Hamas’ armed wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigade, claimed responsibility for firing eight rockets at Israel before midnight on Wednesday, according to the Palestinian Ma’an news service.

The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigade said it would cooperate with Egyptian mediation efforts, but only if Israel halts its retaliatory airstrikes on Gaza.

Hamas also said it would not disassemble its launchers and is ready to “defend and attack,” according to Ma’an.

At least 70 rockets hit southern Israel on Wednesday; 120 have struck Israel since Monday, when the cross-border attacks began.

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