Gaza deaths pass 1,000 as ceasefire reveals horrors

ceasefire

Israel has extended a ceasefire in Gaza until 21:00 GMT and is considering a 24-hour pause, officials say.

Palestinian group Hamas is yet to respond to the move. Israel said three rockets and three mortars were fired from Gaza after a 12-hour truce ended.

Gazans had been using the pause to recover bodies and gather supplies.

More than 1,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 42 Israelis, two civilians, have been killed since Israel launched the Gaza offensive.

About 5,870 Palestinians have been wounded in the 19 days of fighting, Gaza health officials say.

‘Mortars fired’

The original truce expired at 20:00 local time (17:00 GMT).

A senior Israeli official told the BBC that the UN had requested a 24-hour extension to the ceasefire.

“At the first stage, the cabinet approved, in a phone vote, four more hours until midnight, in order to allow the cabinet to convene and discuss the UN’s request,” the official said.

“The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] maintains the humanitarian pause, during which, the IDF’s activity to neutralise the [Hamas] tunnels will continue.”

Mahmoud Al-Zahar, a senior Hamas member, said the group had not yet agreed to an extension, and that “any ceasefire agreement must befit the sacrifice and price paid by the Palestinian people in Gaza, and the firm stance by the resistance”, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

The IDF told the BBC that three mortars were fired from Gaza and hit Israel in the Eshkol regional council shortly after 20:00 local time.

After talks in the French capital, Paris, foreign ministers from the US, Turkey, Qatar and several European countries urged both sides to extend the truce.

UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told the BBC it was vital to get “the ceasefire to roll over… again and again, until we’ve established the level of confidence that allows the parties to sit round a table to talk around the substantive issues”.

In other developments:

  • Thousands took part in a protest in London against Israel’s military campaign in Gaza
  • A pro-Palestinian protest also took place in Paris, despite a police ban due to fears of violence
  • The UK’s Department for International Development (Dfid) said it would send £2m ($3.39m) of additional assistance to the UN Relief and Works Agency (Unrwa) in Gaza
  • Egypt said it had summoned Turkey’s highest-ranking diplomat in the country over comments made by Turkish leader Recep Erdogan. In an interview on Thursday, Mr Erdogan said Egypt did “not have a sincere approach to the Palestine issue” and described Egypt’s president as a “tyrant”

Israel launched its military offensive with the declared objective of stopping Hamas firing rockets from Gaza into Israel.

It also began a ground offensive on 18 July, saying it was necessary to destroy tunnels dug by militants to infiltrate Israel.