Israel-Gaza conflict: Death toll hits 1,000 amid 12-hour ceasefire

An Israeli official says ceasefire may be extended by four hours

The number of people killed in the conflict between Israel and Gaza has reached 1,000 as a 12-hour humanitarian ceasefire to allow civilians to seek aid and evacuate to safer areas of the region continues today.

An Israeli government official has since been quotes as saying Israel is "leaning toward" extending the 12-hour humanitarian truce by at least four hours.

At least 85 bodies have been pulled from the rubble during the lull in fighting, bringing the Palestinian death toll to an estimated 985 since the conflict began 18 days ago.

Over 5,700 have been wounded and tens of thousands have been left displaced by shelling, according to officials. Forty Israelis have also been killed in cross-border fighting.

In the southern town of Khan Younis, 20 members of the same extended family, including at least 10 children, were killed by tank fire that hit a building on the edge of town, according to Palestinian health official Ashraf al-Kidra.

Hundreds of men marched in a funeral procession in Khan Younis Saturday afternoon, chanting "there is only God" while carrying the bodies.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) says the 12-hour pause began at 8am local time (5am GMT). During this time, it said it will continue to  "locate and neutralise" tunnels used by Hamas and warned the military "shall respond if terrorists choose to exploit" the lull to attack Israeli troops or civilians.

Hamas said that the group had agreed to the 12-hour lull to allow civilians to receive aid and find safer areas. Hundreds of Palestinians poured into the streets in the minutes after the truce took force, with many heading to banks which have briefly re-opened. Others inspected damage and stocked up on supplies.

Turkey lifted a ban on flights to Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport three hours after the truce was announced, according to an announcement on Twitter.

The ceasefire was agreed upon by both sides after US Secretary of State John Kerry, currently visiting the region, failed to broker a seven-day truce as a first step toward a broader deal.

It comes as 19 Palestinians were killed in airstrikes overnight and two Israeli soldiers were also killed in Gaza.

Israel on Friday rejected international proposals for an extended ceasefire, a government source said, but Mr Kerry, speaking in Cairo, said no formal proposals had yet been put forward.

Britain's United Nations ambassador had earlier said there may be "an extremely short" humanitarian pause in the conflict in Gaza between Israel and Hamas today lasting several hours.

Read more: Eight hundred dead Palestinians. But Israel has impunity
Five Palestinians die during the West Bank's 'day of rage'
'We told you to evacuate the school,'.'No you didn’t.'
Israel is attempting to deal rationally with an enemy crazed with lust for our death

Mark Lyall Grant told reporters that Britain is very disappointed at the failure to reach agreement on a sustainable ceasefire but suggested a humanitarian pause could "open up a little bit of space to work on a more sustainable ceasefire".

He said foreign ministers from the US, UK Turkey and other countries are meeting in Paris today "to decide precisely on the next steps".

But there were fears that after the temporary ceasefire, there could be an escalation in the fighting.

Israel's defence minister warned on Friday Israel might soon expand its Gaza ground operation "significantly".

The temporary lull was unlikely to change the trajectory of the current hostilities amid ominous signs that the Gaza war is spilling over into the West Bank.

In a "Day of Rage," Palestinians across the territory, which had been relatively calm for years, staged protests against Israel's Gaza operation and the rising casualty toll there.

On Thursday night, 10,000 demonstrators marched in solidarity with Gaza near the Palestinian administrative capital Ramallah - a scale recalling mass revolts of the past.

Palestinians walk on the street full of stones which were hurled in clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces fill the street in front of an Israeli watch tower of the Qalandia checkpoint near the West Bank city of Ramallah Palestinians walk on the street full of stones which were hurled in clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces fill the street in front of an Israeli watch tower of the Qalandia checkpoint near the West Bank city of Ramallah In the West Bank, at least five Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire, hospital officials said.

Israel wants more time to destroy Hamas military tunnels and rocket launching sites in Gaza, while the territory's Hamas rulers want international guarantees that a Gaza border blockade will be lifted before they cease fire.

Overnight, militants fired a barrage of rockets out of Gaza, triggering sirens across much of southern and central Israel. No injuries were reported, with the Iron Dome interceptor system shooting down some of the projectiles.

Meanwhile, heavy Israeli shelling was reported in the town of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, an area where ground troops are operating.

One shell hit near the emergency department of Beit Hanoun hospital, wounding six people, including a foreign national who was not identified further, the Red Crescent said. Two of the wounded were in critical condition.

Residents returning during the ceasefire encountered widespread destruction across the area.

Shells also hit an ambulance in Beit Hanoun, killing a paramedic and wounding two people, the Red Crescent said.

Additional reporting by agencies

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea