Israel grants Gaza 16 hours of peace

Toll crosses 1,000; world asks for ceasefire in warzone

Gaza City: Israel on Saturday approved a four-hour extension of a temporary truce in Gaza, Israeli television said, after the Palestinian death toll topped 1,000 with the retrieval of dozens of bodies.

The Israeli Cabinet had agreed to prolong a 12-hour truce that went into effect on Saturday morning by four hours, extending it until midnight local time (2100 GMT).

The decision came after US secretary of state John Kerry and foreign ministers from Europe and West Asia urged Israel and the Hamas movement to extend the fragile truce.

“We all call on parties to extend the humanitarian ceasefire,” France’s foreign minister Laurent Fabius told reporters after meeting Mr Kerry and foreign ministers from Britain, Germany, Italy, Qatar and Turkey, as well as an EU representative.

“We all want to obtain a lasting ceasefire as quickly as possible that addresses both Israeli requirements in terms of security and Palestinian requirements in terms of socio-economic development.”

There was no immediate response from Hamas to either that call or to the Israeli decision.

Medics in Gaza began digging through the remains of hundreds of homes, and uncovered more than 100 bodies, medics said. The grim discoveries pushed the Palestinian toll in Gaza to more than 1,000.

Israel also announced the deaths of three more soldiers, raising its military toll to 40. On the ground, Palestinian ambulances sped into neighbourhoods that have been too dangerous to enter for days.

Meanwhile, at least 10,000 pro-Palestinian protesters opposed to Israel’s military action in Gaza marched through central London for the second week running on Saturday.

Police estimated the crowds at 10,000, but an AFP photographer suggested the number could be far higher, forcing the closure of roads around Britain’s Parliament.

( Source : agencies )
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