Gaza death toll over 1,000 - Israeli toll up to 42

Chris Morris reports from Shejaiya, where people are using the truce to dash back to their homes to gather what they can

The death toll in Gaza has passed 1,000, Palestinian medical officials say, 19 days after Israel launched an offensive against Hamas militants.

It comes amid a 12-hour humanitarian truce, which Gaza residents have been using to gather essential supplies and retrieve bodies buried under rubble.

Forty-two Israelis have also been killed since the Israel-Hamas conflict began on 8 July.

International talks urging a longer truce were held in Paris on Saturday.

Israeli officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, raised the possibility of extending the ceasefire by four hours.

However, there is no official statement. Israel's security cabinet will meet on Saturday evening.

A Hamas spokesperson in Gaza said the group was examining the possibility of an extension, but no decision had been made, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

Philip Hammond: "The necessity right now is to stop the loss of life"

Tunnels

Gaza officials said more than 100 bodies had been retrieved from under the rubble of shelled buildings during the brief ceasefire, which expires at 20:00 local time (17:00 GMT).

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

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said three soldiers were killed in fighting overnight, bringing the total number of Israeli deaths to 40 soldiers and two civilians.

The Israeli military says it will continue to "locate and neutralise" Hamas tunnels during the pause.

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.

A rocket is seen as it is fired from the northern Gaza Strip towards Israel, 25 July 2014 Palestinian fighters have been firing rockets from Gaza into Israel
A Palestinian woman reacts at seeing destroyed homes in the northern district of Beit Hanun in the Gaza Strip during an humanitarian truce, 26 July 2014 Many Palestinian homes have been destroyed by Israeli air strikes
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'Astonishing scene': Ian Pannell, BBC News, Gaza City
View over part of Shejaiya (26 July 2014) A BBC team has been into the Shejaiya neighbourhood of Gaza City, hit hard by Israel last Sunday

In the district of Shejaiya, residents started flooding back from 08:00, despite warnings not to do so.

The scene here is just astonishing - the most widespread destruction: buildings completely pulverised, cars thrown 50m (160ft) into the air on top of buildings, the facades of some block of flats completely ripped off.

The air is pretty thick with the stench of death as people try to recover bodies and belongings.

In the background I can hear a crackle of gunfire. Although a humanitarian ceasefire is in place, clearly people are still shooting. There is an Israeli drone flying overhead, and we've heard the sound of fighter jets.

I think people feel they have a brief window of opportunity to do as much as they can and then frankly get out of here.

Follow Ian Pannell's tweets from Gaza

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In Paris, US Secretary of State John Kerry met the foreign ministers of Turkey, Qatar and some European countries in the hopes of agreeing a longer ceasefire.

The UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told the BBC: "We all agreed there must be an extension of that ceasefire - the humanitarian situation demands it."

It was vital to get "the ceasefire to rollover for 12 hours or 24 hours or 48 hours, and then 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," he added.

Israel's government spokesman Mark Regev said his country was ultimately seeking "peace and quiet"

France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters that a lasting ceasefire should address "both Israeli requirements in terms of security and Palestinian requirements in terms of socio-economic development".

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"

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