GAZA CITY: Millions in Gaza and southern Israel yesterday enjoyed a welcome extension to a temporary truce despite a rocky start which saw a flurry of rocket fire and air strikes.
Egyptian mediators brokered a five-day extension to an existing truce to allow for further negotiations on a long-term ceasefire to fighting that has killed 1,962 Palestinians and 67 people on the Israeli side since July 8.
Despite overnight rocket attacks on Israel and Israeli air strikes on Gaza, the calm held throughout yesterday even if great uncertainty persists on both sides about the future.
Around 10,000 Israelis poured into Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, police said, calling on the government and the army to end Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza once and for all.
In Gaza City’s battered Shejaiya neighbourhood, Mohamed Ibrahim Aateysh was brewing sweet mint tea inside his destroyed home with his family. “The ceasefire is nonsense. We want stability in the country,” he said wearily.
“Not having to come and go every day. One day sleeping there, then one day coming back. As you can see my home is completely destroyed. Our whole life is now destroyed.”
The Israeli army said six Palestinian rockets struck Israel during the night, including three after the new truce came into effect at midnight.
Israeli warplanes hit back with four air strikes, Palestinian security officials said, adding the skies fell silent at around 3am (0000 GMT).
Palestinian Chief Negotiator Azzam Al Ahmed said the delegations had reached “agreement on many points” concerning the lifting of eight-year blockade on Gaza but needed more time to settle remaining disputes.
Israel confirmed it accepted the Egyptian proposal. “We’re honouring the ceasefire and let’s see what Hamas does,” a senior official said.
Israeli negotiators and members of the Palestinian delegation have left Cairo for consultations with their bases and are not expected to return before tomorrow night at the earliest.