Middle East

Gaza ceasefire 'extended by a day' after Cairo talks

Palestinians walk next to the ruins of houses in the southern Gaza Strip - 18 August 2014 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption UN officials say nearly 17.000 housing units in the Gaza Strip were destroyed in the recent conflict

The Gaza ceasefire has been extended for a further 24 hour after talks in Cairo, Egypt says.

The truce was extended until midnight on Tuesday (21:00 GMT) to allow talks on a more long-term arrangement.

However, Palestinian officials say discussions are continuing but that there has been "no progress" on reaching an agreement with Israel.

Officials say that 2,016 Palestinians and 66 Israelis have died since Israel began its offensive on Gaza on 8 July.

On Tuesday afternoon three rockets were fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip, landing in open areas in Beersheba, an IDF spokesperson told the BBC.

No-one was injured in the attack, which was the first instance of rocket fire in several days.

In a statement minutes before the expiry of a previous truce at midnight on Monday, Egypt released a statement confirming both sides had accepted its request for an extension.

The previous ceasefire came into effect last Wednesday.

Earlier, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israeli forces would hit back hard if Hamas resumed rocket fire.

He said the military was "ready for all scenarios" and were prepared "for very resolute action if fire resumes".

Negotiating teams returned to Egypt's capital Cairo for indirect talks on Sunday.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Palestinian negotiators are hoping to secure a gradual extension to their agreed fishing zone
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Prime Minister Netanyahu says Israeli forces are prepared to retaliate if Gaza militants resume rocket fire

Palestinian negotiator Qais Abdul Karim said on Sunday that Israel was seeking guarantees that Hamas and other factions in Gaza would be disarmed.

Palestinians are calling for an end to the Israeli and Egyptian blockades of Gaza without preconditions, he added.

Hamas says it will not give up its weapons, while Israel insists it must maintain some control over Gaza's crossings to prevent the smuggling of weapons.

Israel is also concerned by the import of building materials into Gaza, saying they could be used by Hamas to rebuild its tunnel network.

'Unprecedented destruction'

But Middle East envoy Robert Serry said on Monday that the UN was ready to oversee imports of construction material sent to Gaza.

Mr Serry said the imports were crucial after "the unprecedented amount of destruction" had caused an "unprecedented level of humanitarian needs".

Approximately 16,800 housing units in Gaza had been destroyed, Mr Serry added, affecting some 100,000 Palestinians.

In addition, he said more than 100 installations belonging to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees had been damaged.

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Media captionThe blockade of Gaza has been tightened since 2007