Palestinian relatives of four boys from the same extended Bakr family, grieve during their funeral in Gaza City, Wednesday, July 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
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Hamas demanded changes Wednesday to an Egyptian proposal to end the deadly conflict with Israel in and around the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian official said.Hamas' demand came as the Palestinian death toll from Israel's punishing air campaign, now in its ninth day, rose to 220 people after the Islamist movement snubbed the truce plan on Tuesday even though it was briefly respected by Israel. Hamas deputy leader Mussa Abu Marzuq met Egyptian officials in Cairo and set out the changes being sought, said Azzam al-Ahmad, a senior figure in Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement. Senior Hamas official Ghazi Hamad told AFP in Gaza City that the Egyptian plan was rejected "in its current form" and that Hamas had notified Egypt of the changes it was seeking. "The initiative should include clear wording on fully lifting the blockade on Gaza, including opening all the crossings, and releasing the re-arrested prisoners from the [Gilad] Shalit deal in the West Bank," Hamad said. He was referring to a 2011 deal under which Shalit, an Israeli soldier held by Gaza militants for more than five years, was freed in exchange for scores of Palestinian prisoners. Israel initially accepted the Egyptian initiative, but later intensified its airstrikes aimed at stamping out rocket fire by Gaza militants after Hamas rejected the plan.
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