Israel Extends Ceasefire, Hamas Refuses Until Troops Withdraw from Gaza
TEL AVIV/GAZA, July 27 (RIA Novosti) - The Israeli Security Cabinet voted to extend the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip until Sunday midnight, according local Channel 1, while the Hamas movement refused the truce until Israel withdraws its troops from the territory occupied by the enclave.
'Any 'humanitarian truce' that does not include the Israeli troops leaving the Gaza Strip, refugees returning to their homes and the injured being evacuated, is not accepted,' said in the text message sent out to journalists on behalf of Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zukhri on Sunday.
The statement undermines the earlier Israeli decision to extend what initially was a 12-hour ceasefire to allow civilians in the enclave to replenish food and medical supplies and to move from the conflict zone to safer areas.
Israel's understanding of a ceasefire does not include suspending the demolition of underground tunnels dug by the militants to sneak into Israel and transport weapons.
Earlier in the day, international mediators from the United States, France Britain, Germany, Qatar, Turkey and Italy during a meeting in Paris called for the extension of the truce that came into force in the Gaza Strip early Saturday.
The rebels from the Hamas movement resumed rocket fire right after the initial truce ended at 17:00 GMT.
The death toll in Gaza topped 1,000 on Saturday, which marked the 19th day of the conflict, according to the Palestinian Emergency Services. Israel has lost 42 soldiers and three civilians since the beginning of the conflict.
Israel launched its Operation Protective Edge to put an end to rocket fire from Gaza and undermining the Hamas movement, which controls the region, back on July 8. On July 17, the Israeli Army switched to a ground assault.
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