JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israeli and Palestinian officials reportedly have confirmed that the Gaza cease-fire was extended by 24 hours.
The extension of the current five-day cease-fire, which was set to expire at midnight Monday, will allow the sides to continue to discuss a long-term truce.
The talks reportedly are being extended because of what has been characterized as significant progress in talks on an agreement.
A senior member of the Palestinian delegation told the French news agency AFP that there had been “progress,” with both sides demonstrating “a great degree” of flexibility.
Earlier Monday, following a security meeting at the Ashdod Navy Base, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the cease-fire talks.
“We are ready for any scenario – the Israeli team in Cairo has been instructed to insist on Israel’s security needs and the IDF is prepared for very action strong action if fire is resumed,” Netanyahu said.
He added, “It could yet take time and one must be patient and determined. The combination of persistence and strength will assist us in achieving the goal of this.”
The Qatari-based Al-Jazeera news channel reported late Monday night that the cease-fire agreement currently being considered favourably by both sides includes opening border crossings between Israel and Gaza, with building materials allowed into Gaza under international supervision and expanding the fishing area for Gaza boats. The discussion of building a Gaza seaport and releasing Palestinian prisoners is to be discussed within a month.
The Gaza Health Ministry on Monday said the death toll from Israel’s month-long military operation rose to 2,016 after several more injured Gazans died of their wounds. The ministry said 541 of the dead were children. More than 10,000 were wounded during the operation the Israelis called Protective Edge.
Sixty-four Israeli soldiers and three civilians were killed during the operation, which began on July 8.