CAIRO, August 14 (Itar-Tass) - Palestinians and the Israeli have agreed to extend truce in Gaza for another five days, Azzam Al-Ahmad, a Fatah senior official and a head of the Palestinian delegation to the truce talks in Cairo, said on Thursday, adding that the truce had come into force from 01:00 a.m. Moscow time to expire on Monday, August 18.
He also said the parties had agreed to allocate time for talks in a bid to try to finally reach an agreement on lasting ceasefire. He said that the Palestinian-Israeli consultation had achieved progress on many provisions concerning lifting Gaza’s blockade but there were minor details yet to be settled. Apart from that, the parties, in his words, were working hard to reach understanding on Gaza’s security and reconstruction issues.
The Palestinian negotiator blamed the Israeli delegation for delays in declaring a new truce. He said the Israeli delegation had several times left Cairo in the past 72 hours, that is why the decision to extend truce for another five days had been taken virtually at the last moment.
Dwelling on the details of the Cairo talks, al-Ahmad said the issue of Gaza’s demilitarization had not been raised. Until recently, Gaza’s demilitarization was Israel’s key condition of lifting blockade of the enclave imposed back in 2006. Palestinian factions have been categorically refusing to discuss any disarmament.
Another major issue - the opening of the Rafah checkpoint at the border with Egypt, according to al-Ahmad, had been postponed. He stressed in was an internal affair of the Palestinians and the Israelis. He also said that a number of members of the Palestinian delegation would go to
Ramallah on the West Bank on Thursday morning for consultations with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Hamas representatives will go to Doha, Qatar, the seat of the Hamas headquarters.
No official statements on the 5-day truce have so far come from Israel. Earlier, Israel gave to understand it was ready for another 72-hour pause.
In the meantime, according to Palestinian and Israeli media reports, two hours before the previous three-day pause expired, Palestinian radicals fired nine missiles from the Gaza Strip at Israel’s southern regions. The Israeli military accused “terrorists” of violating the nearly-over truce.
Hamas however soon categorically denied any missile attacks. It looks like that following this missile attack the Israeli aviation delivered a series of air strikes at Gaza’s northern and eastern areas. So far, there have been no reports about the casualties.