GAZA CITY: Hamas rejected Israel’s decision to extend by 24 hours a pause in hostilities in Gaza, saying Israeli tanks first had to withdraw from the territory.
“No humanitarian ceasefire is valid without Israeli tanks withdrawing from the Gaza Strip and without residents being able to return to their homes and ambulances carrying bodies being able to freely move around in Gaza,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said in a statement.
Israel’s security cabinet yesterday approved extending the humanitarian ceasefire begun early yesterday until midnight local time today, an Israeli government official said.
“At the request of the United Nations, the cabinet has approved a humanitarian hiatus until tomorrow at 24:00. The IDF (Israel Defence Forces) will act against any breach of the ceasefire,” the official, who was not named, said in a statement.
Late yesterday, Hamas resumed firing rockets at Israel from Gaza after a 12-hour humanitarian window.
The rocket fire came shortly after Israel announced it would extend the humanitarian ceasefire for another four hours, as its security cabinet debated whether to press on with the 19-day operation.
The conflict has claimed more than 1,000 Palestinian lives, most of them civilians, and has killed 40 Israeli soldiers as well as three civilians inside Israel.
US Secretary of State John Kerry met European and Middle Eastern foreign ministers in Paris earlier to push both sides to extend the temporary truce, which began at 0500 GMT.
“We all call on parties to extend the humanitarian ceasefire,” France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters in Paris after meeting Kerry and foreign ministers from Britain, Germany, Italy, Qatar and Turkey, as well as an EU representative.
“We all want to obtain a lasting ceasefire as quickly as possible that addresses both Israeli requirements in terms of security and Palestinian requirements in terms of socio-economic development.”