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Sunday 21 September 2014

Gaza truce extended despite three rockets being fired at Israel

Donald MacIntyre

Published 13/08/2014 | 20:52

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The current Gaza ceasefire ends at midnight local time (9pm GMT) (AP)
Associated Press video journalist Simone Camilli was killed in an ordnance explosion in the Gaza Strip (AP)

Israel and Hamas have agreed to extend a ceasefire to allow more time for Egyptian mediators to bridge the continuing gap between the two sides on a possible agreement to end the 35-day Gaza war.

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Three days of intense, if indirect, negotiations failed to achieve the hoped-for breakthrough that might have produced a durable truce to end the conflict, which has cost more than 1,900 Palestinian lives and caused the deaths of 66 Israelis, the large majority of them soldiers.

But after Egyptian attempts to prolong the ceasefire to allow time for further talks went to the wire, Palestinians and Israeli negotiators were said to have agreed to extend the truce beyond midnight local time tonight.

There were conflicting reports that the truce would be extended by three days and five days, and it was not immediately possible to reconcile the different timescales.

Azzam al-Ahmad, head of the Palestinian delegation, said the ceasefire was meant to ensure a “positive atmosphere”, while noting there had been “lots of progress”.

A Hamas official had said earlier that the parties had “finished talks today without [a permanent] agreement”, saying “more work needs to be done to have a better deal”.

While Egyptian and Palestinian officials said the ceasefire had been extended, Israel had not commented specifically on the supposed deal. And there was an unconfirmed report that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had ordered the military to retaliate after at least three rockets were fired into southern Israel without causing any casualties.

Associated Press video journalist Simone Camilli stands on a balcony with smoke from Israeli strikes billowing in the background, in Gaza City in this August 2014 photo. Italian journalist Camilli, three Palestinian bomb disposal experts and two other people were killed in Gaza on August 13, 2014 when unexploded munitions blew up, medical officials and police said. REUTERS/Lefteris Pitarakis/AP Photo/Handout via Reuters (GAZA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT MEDIA PROFILE)
ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO SALES. NO ARCHIVES. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Italian journalist Camilli, three Palestinian bomb disposal experts and two other people were killed in Gaza on August 13, 2014 when unexploded munitions blew up, medical officials and police said. REUTERS/Lefteris Pitarakis/AP

Another rocket killed a child and wounded two others in Egypt near the border with Gaza, officials said. A 13-year-old girl, Sara Salama, was killed and her eight-year-old brother Khaled and sister Rahaf, 2, were seriously hurt in the Egyptian town of el-Mattallah, close to the Palestinian border town of Rafah, security and medical sources said.

A spokesman for the Hamas movement, which is in power in Gaza, denied that it had fired any rockets.

Earlier, amid reports that Israel was sending more troops to reinforce the border, Israel’s Major General Nitzan Alon said: “It is not clear what happens next, but one thing is clear: that the Israeli Defence Forces is vigilant and prepared to fight any enemy that will hurt Israeli citizens and threaten their safety.”

In this Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014 photo, Associated Press photographer Hatem Moussa holds his camera, in Gaza City, Gaza Strip. Moussa was seriously injured Wednesday when Gaza police engineers were neutralizing unexploded ordnance in the Gaza town of Beit Lahiya left over from fighting between Israel and Islamic militants. (AP Photo)
Hatem Moussa holds his camera, in Gaza City, Gaza Strip
12/08/2014 Nayaab Khalid lights a chinese lantern for the  'Illuminate the sky for Gaza' demonstration on O'Connell Street hosted by 'Act for Palestine' group tonight. They held this demonstration today as August 12 2014 is the 65th anniversary of the Geneva Convention, the International Law governing war and conflict. They lit chinese lanterns and released them into the sky. Photo: Clodagh Kilcoyne
12/08/2014 Nayaab Khalid lights a chinese lantern for the 'Illuminate the sky for Gaza' demonstration on O'Connell Street hosted by 'Act for Palestine' group tonight. They held this demonstration today as August 12 2014 is the 65th anniversary of the Geneva Convention, the International Law governing war and conflict. They lit chinese lanterns and released them into the sky. Photo: Clodagh Kilcoyne
12/08/2014  'Illuminate the sky for Gaza' demonstration on O'Connell Street hosted by 'Act for Palestine' group tonight. They held this demonstration today as August 12 2014 is the 65th anniversary of the Geneva Convention, the International Law governing war and conflict. They lit chinese lanterns and released them into the sky. Photo: Clodagh Kilcoyne
'Illuminate the sky for Gaza' demonstration on O'Connell Street hosted by 'Act for Palestine' group tonight Photo: Clodagh Kilcoyne
12/08/2014  'Illuminate the sky for Gaza' demonstration on O'Connell Street hosted by 'Act for Palestine' group tonight. They held this demonstration today as August 12 2014 is the 65th anniversary of the Geneva Convention, the International Law governing war and conflict. They lit chinese lanterns and released them into the sky. Photo: Clodagh Kilcoyne
'Illuminate the sky for Gaza' demonstration on O'Connell Street hosted by 'Act for Palestine' group tonight Photo: Clodagh Kilcoyne

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