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Israel agrees to extend Gaza ceasefire

Smoke and sand rise after an Israeli strike in Gaza City, northern Gaza Strip, Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014.   | Photo Credit: Hatem Moussa

Israel has agreed to extend beyond Friday a 72-hour ceasefire that has halted a month of fighting in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, officials said on Wednesday as Egyptian efforts intensified to broker a long-term truce between the two sides.

“Israel has agreed to extend a three-day ceasefire in Gaza beyond Friday,” BBC quoted Israeli officials as saying.

The officials, however, did not say how long the ceasefire would last.

>The 72-hour ceasefire, which came into effect on Tuesday, has brought relief to millions on both sides after one month of fighting killed nearly 1,900 Palestinians and 67 people in Israel, mostly soldiers.

Tens of thousands of Gazans who were displaced due to heavy shelling from Israel, began returning from the U.N. shelters, only to find their homes and businesses in ruins.

United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday urged a permanent end to the cycle of Israeli and Palestinian violence.

Indirect talks between Palestinian factions and Israel have been taking place, mediated by Egypt, to broker a long-term ceasefire.

IANS reports from Gaza:

Ceasefire extension not discussed, says Hamas

Meanwhile, Hamas denied on Wednesday that the Palestinian factions of the group have agreed to extend the Egyptian-mediated ceasefire.

“The issue of extending the ceasefire was not raised during the discussions in Cairo,” Xinhua quoted Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zohri as saying.




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