Report: Israel extends cease-fire for 24 hours

GAZA CITY — Israel's Cabinet extended a humanitarian cease-fire for 24 hours, but said it would respond to any attacks from Gaza, according to an Associated Press report.

The AP quoted a government official who wrote in a text message that the truce would be extended through midnight on Sunday, but that operations targeting Hamas military tunnels would continue. He requested anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters on the development.

Hamas had earlier rejected Israel's four-hour extension of a humanitarian cease-fire Saturday as the Palestinian death toll in the conflict rose to more than 1,000. A short time later, the group said it fired five rockets from Gaza, two pointed directly at Tel Aviv.

Meanwhile, at least 130 bodies were recovered Saturday, Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra said, as Palestinians used the cease-fire to move medical supplies and tend to the dead and injured in the Gaza Strip.

As the initial lull in hostilities began at 8 a.m. Saturday, Gazans poured onto the streets to find food supplies, look for missing family members or return to homes they left for shelters. The nearly three weeks of fighting has left swaths of rubble, destroyed roads and damaged power infrastructure in residential neighborhoods across the strip.

More than 1,000 Palestinians, mainly civilians, have been killed since the conflict began on July 8. Another 6,000 have been wounded. In Israel, 43 have died, including 40 soldiers, two civilians and a Thai worker.

Imad Nasrallah, 38, said he and others have made it a point not to forget the living.

"With my brothers and neighbors, we volunteer and go help others, in case their homes were targeted," Nasrallah said. "We transfer the wounded to hospitals or go carry the martyrs and bury them."

Saturday's temporary truce was the second and the longest since the conflict began on July 8. A humanitarian cease-fire on July 17 was quickly overlooked as rocket fire resumed as soon as the set five hours expired.

In Paris on Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with European foreign ministers to find ways to build off Saturday's lull.

On Friday, Israel rejected a U.S.-backed proposal for a weeklong truce because it would require its forces to interrupt its operation to destroy Hamas tunnels. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon told troops Friday that Israel may significantly widen the Gaza ground operation.

A truce proposed by Egypt last week was rejected by Hamas because the group said it wasn't consulted. Hamas says any peace deal must include the lifting of a blockade against Gaza.

In the northern town of Beit Hanoun, residents — many of whom had fled days earlier — encountered widespread destruction Saturday.

"Nothing is left. Everything I have is gone," said Siham Kafarneh, 37, weeping as she talked about the destroyed home she had spent 10 years saving up for and moved into just two months ago.

The continued hostilities have meant nowhere is safe for Nasrallah and his family as shelters no longer offer the promise of security, he said.

"It's not safe to go out but there is no guarantee our homes are safe," said Nasrallah. "Many houses were hit by Israeli tank shelling and airstrikes while people were inside."

Contributing: The Associated Press

(Copyright © 2014 USA TODAY)


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