- Associated Press - Thursday, March 28, 2019

JERUSALEM (AP) - The Latest on the Israel-Palestinian conflict (all times local):

6:10 p.m.

The Israeli military says it has beefed up its troop presence along the border with the Gaza Strip and completed preparations for possible renewal of hostilities with Palestinian militants this weekend.

The army said Thursday that Israeli forces “are continuing with advancing readiness ahead of a possible escalation” following this week’s cross-border violence and planned mass protests along the Israel-Gaza border on Saturday.

The military issued a video showing soldiers massing near the border and performing urban combat drills.

Earlier in the week, Israel mustered reservist troops and deployed tanks and armored personnel carriers near the Gaza Strip.

Egyptian mediators are trying to reach a negotiated truce between Israel and Hamas


3:45 p.m.

Israel’s prime minister says he is prepared to take further military action in the Gaza Strip, but only as a last resort.

Benjamin Netanyahu made his comments Thursday as Egyptian mediators were trying to broker an expanded cease-fire between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers following a new round of fighting.

Netanyahu visited troops sent to the Gaza border this week after a two-day outbreak of fighting.

“If we need a broader operation, we will enter it strong and confident, and after we have exhausted all other options,” he said.

Israel carried out retaliatory airstrikes against Hamas after a rocket fired from Gaza destroyed a house north of Tel Aviv and wounded seven Israelis. Palestinian militants responded with rocket barrages in some of the most intense fighting since a 2014 war.


3:10 p.m.

Egyptian mediators are heading to Israel to discuss a potential cease-fire plan with Hamas to end hostilities in the Gaza Strip that began earlier this week.

Three Hamas officials familiar with the negotiations said Thursday that the Egyptians offered Hamas a series of measures to ease the Egyptian-Israeli blockade on Gaza. In exchange, Hamas would have to pledge to halt rocket fire and keep protests along the Israeli border under control.

The officials say the deal would only take effect after a planned mass demonstration along the Israeli border. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the negotiations were ongoing. One of the officials described the atmosphere as positive.

Another official said the Egyptians were discussing the proposal with Israel on Thursday afternoon.

There was no immediate Israeli comment.

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