Despite the efforts of Egyptian mediators, a resumption of Middle East hostilities looks increasingly likely after Hamas rejected any extension to the three day ceasefire which drew to a close on Friday morning.
Israel had already reported rocket fire from Gaza where Palestinian factions held a rally, with several thousand supporters urging Hamas to “bomb Tel Aviv”.
Mushir Al-Masri, a Hamas official, told the crowd that Israel should know that “our fighters are in the battlefield with their fingers on triggers”.
Hamas’s armed wing has urged Palestinians to quit the indirect talks with Israel unless progress is made towards meeting broader demands, including calls for the lifting of the blockade of the enclave.
“Indirect talks are ongoing and we still have today to secure this,” an Egyptian official said when asked whether the truce was likely to go beyond Friday’s 8 a.m. (0500 GMT) deadline.
On the ground, after a month of bitter conflict, student volunteers are doing what they can to clear up rubble after Israeli air strikes on the campus of Gaza City’s Islamic University. Israel’s military claims the building had been used by Hamas for weapons research and development.
Gaza officials say the war has killed 1,875 Palestinians, most of them civilians. Israel says 64 of its soldiers and three civilians have died in the fighting that began on July 8, after a surge in Palestinian rocket salvoes into Israel.
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