Israel agrees to extend Gaza war truce for 24 hours, but says it will respond to Hamas fire
BEIT HANOUN, Gaza Strip (AP) - Hamas resumed rocket fire Saturday on Israel after rejecting Israel’s offer to extend a humanitarian cease-fire, the latest setback in international efforts to negotiate an end to the Gaza war.
Despite the Hamas rejection, Israel’s Cabinet decided to extend a truce for 24 hours, until midnight (2100 GMT) Sunday. However, it warned that its military would respond to any fire from Gaza and would continue to demolish Hamas military tunnels during this period.
A temporary lull on Saturday saw Palestinians return to neighborhoods reduced to rubble and allowed medics to collect close to 150 bodies, Palestinian health official Ashraf al-Kidra.
With the retrieval of the corpses, the number of Palestinians killed reached 1,047 in 19 days of fighting, while more than 6,000 were wounded, he said.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and European foreign ministers, meeting in Paris, had hoped to transform the cease-fire into a more sustainable truce. That effort was thrown into doubt with the Hamas’ rejection of the extension.
AP PHOTOS: Cease-fire in Gaza war between Israel, Hamas allows civilians to see destruction
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - A brief cease-fire Saturday in the Gaza war between Israel and Hamas militants allowed thousands to return home to see the destruction.
Palestinians walked through the concrete rubble that once used to be homes, collecting what keepsakes they could recover. Some openly wept when they saw what little remained. Two men poured water for birds left behind in one demolished home.
Some Palestinian men climbed over an Israeli armored vehicle, apparently left behind during a military operation. Others held funerals for their dead.
At least 985 Palestinians, mainly civilians, have been killed and more than 6,000 wounded over the past 19 days, according to Palestinian officials. Israeli strikes have destroyed hundreds of homes, including close to 500 in targeted hits, and forced tens of thousands of people to flee, according to Palestinian rights groups.
Israel has lost 37 soldiers and two civilians, and a Thai worker also has been killed in fighting and in Hamas rocket attacks. On the edge of Gaza, Israeli soldiers regrouped as Israel’s defense minister warned he might soon expand the ground operation in Gaza “significantly.”
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