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Gaza Ceasefire Extended by 24 Hours

Israeli and Palestinian Arab negotiators agree to extend a temporary ceasefire in Gaza by 24 hours. Current truce was to expire at midnight.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 8/18/2014, 11:32 PM / Last Update: 8/19/2014, 12:13 AM

IDF soldiers outside Gaza
IDF soldiers outside Gaza
Flash 90

Israeli and Palestinian Arab negotiators agreed on Monday to extend a temporary ceasefire in Gaza by 24 hours to conduct more talks on a long-term truce, a senior Palestinian Authority (PA) official told the AFP news agency.

The current five-day ceasefire was set to expire at midnight local time (2100 GMT).

"Both sides have agreed to a 24-hour ceasefire," the official with the Palestinian delegation in Cairo said.

Diplomatic sources in Jerusalem confirmed the extension, telling Kol Yisrael radio that at the request of Egypt, the ceasefire will be extended for another day so that negotiations on a permanent truce can continue.

Hamas had repeatedly warned it would not extend the ceasefire, pressing for immediate gains that would allow it to claim concessions from Israel after the four-week war in July and August.

However, reported AFP, the group has come under pressure from both PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Egypt, which borders Gaza to the west.

The announcement of the extension came several hours after the Ma’an news agency reported that the two teams to Cairo ceasefire talks have signed their initials to a permanent ceasefire agreement.

The Al Mayadeen network reported, meanwhile, that the Israeli delegation returned to Israel and that neither side is interested in renewing the fighting, so the ceasefire that began Thursday is expected to hold.

On Sunday, the IDF was preparing for a possible resumption of rocket fire from Gaza at midnight Monday, as the ceasefire was set to expire.

The high alert for Monday evening came in the wake of estimates of diplomatic sources in Jerusalem that the chances of a lasting ceasefire deal were very slim.