UK & World News

  • 14 August 2014, 4:11

Gaza Conflict: Truce 'Extended By Five Days'

Israel has launched airstrikes over Gaza despite reports the 72-hour ceasefire has been extended for another five days.

Hamas confirmed it would continue to hold fire after a day of intense talks mediated by Egyptian intelligence.

Israel said earlier it was prepared to extend the ceasefire, which began on Sunday night.

However, within an hour of the extension being reported, Israel's military said it had struck "terror targets".

They claimed it was in response to five rockets being fired from Gaza - something Hamas denied.

It is unclear where this leaves the ceasefire.

A potential extension would allow peace talks to continue in Egypt in search of a long-term solution to the conflict - though the Palestinian delegation has now left Cairo to consult with leader Mahmoud Abbas.

The delegation head, Azzam al Ahmad, said he hoped a final deal would be reached in the coming weeks, with Arab and international backing.

He said the ceasefire was meant to ensure a "positive atmosphere", while noting there had been "lots of progress" in the talks.

Mr al Ahmad added that Israel had conceded some ground - but not on the crucial point of ending the blockade of Gaza.

Israeli demands for disarmament in Gaza were not discussed, he said.

Israel has yet to comment on the truce.

Despite the break in fire over recent days, an Italian journalist has been killed along with four others when an unexploded missile detonated in northern Gaza.

More than 1,950 Palestinians have been killed in five weeks of fighting in Gaza, with 67 dead on the Israeli side.

Meanwhile, an Israeli cabinet minister has accused the UK government of "encouraging" Hamas to re-start rocket fire from Gaza, following a decision to suspend some arms exports to Israel if fighting resumes.