BEIRUT

Middle East

Egypt delays Gaza talks after Israel soldier 'captured': Islamic Jihad

A Palestinian reacts as he walks in the heavily bombed town of Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip, close to the Israeli border, Friday, Aug. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

CAIRO: Egypt told the Islamic Jihad Friday it is delaying talks on a long-term Gaza cease-fire, the Palestinian militant group said, after Israel revealed one of its soldiers may have been captured.

"The Egyptians contacted the Islamic Jihad and said Israel told them that a soldier has been captured," the group's deputy leader Ziad al-Nakhale told AFP. "The talks have been postponed."

An Israeli army spokesman said an initial 72-hour truce that began at 0500 GMT Friday was over after the suspected abduction of a soldier "in an incident where terrorists breached the cease-fire".

But Hamas's deputy leader Moussa Abu Marzouq said "any operation was conducted before the cease-fire started".

He told AFP that any announcement of a soldier's capture must come from the group's military wing in Gaza, but he did not deny that Hamas militants abducted the soldier.

Abu Marzouq said Hamas was still prepared to abide by the 72-hour truce if Israel was willing to do so.

US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns had been among the diplomats expected to travel to Egypt to take part in talks aimed at agreeing on a durable truce to follow the 72-hour one that collapsed soon after it began Friday.

 

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