[Palestinian children sit on what is left of their homes which were demolished by Israeli indiscriminate bombings. Israel now says will only allow rebuilding of such homes if Palestinians disarm]
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an): Israel is willing to agree to the rebuilding of the Gaza Strip in exchange for the disarmament of militant groups there, an official said Tuesday.
Ofer Gendelman told Ma’an that the Israeli government linked the rebuilding of Gaza with disarming factions in the coastal enclave.
Gendelman said that Israel was interested in achieving a lasting ceasefire, but he insisted that it was dependent on Hamas’ respect of the current 72-hour truce.
The Israeli assault in Gaza has caused severe damage to the infrastructure in Gaza. Over 10,000 houses, government buildings, universities, mosques, and schools were damaged in a month-long assault.
Also Tuesday, three remaining members of a Palestinian delegation negotiating a longer-term truce in Gaza were on their way to Cairo after entering Egypt through the Rafah crossing, state media reported.
Israel and Hamas halted their fighting in Gaza from 8 a.m. Tuesday after a three-day temporary truce brokered by Cairo went into effect.
Israel also withdrew its troops from the coastal enclave.
The three Palestinian leaders who entered Egypt were Islamic Jihad member Khaled al-Batsh and senior Hamas officials Khalil al-Haya and Emad El-Elmy, said the official MENA news agency.
A joint Palestinian delegation representing President Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Islamic Jihad has been in Cairo for the past few days at Egypt’s invitation.
Israel earlier refused to send its negotiators, but an official said Tuesday that a team representing it was on its way to Cairo.
The main demands proposed to Egyptian mediators by the Palestinian delegation are a ceasefire, the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza, the end of the siege of the enclave, and opening its border crossings.
They have also demanded fishing rights up to 12 nautical miles off Gaza’s coast and the release of Palestinian prisoners demanded by Hamas and Abbas.
Egyptian mediators are to forward these demands to the Israelis.
Israel’s assault on Gaza has killed over 1,800 Palestinians and injured at least 9,000. Gaza’s deputy economy minister Taysir Amro said Tuesday that the assault has caused at least $4-6 billion in damages.
Sixty-four Israeli soldiers have been killed and three Israeli civilians.
The majority of those killed in Gaza are civilians, according to UN agencies.
AFP contributed to this report.