Hamas Rejects Israel Cease-Fire Amid Peace Talks
Battles rage on in the Gaza Strip as Hamas rejected Israel's four-hour cease-fire extension on Saturday. The rejection came after the Israeli Cabinet said it would prolong the initial 12-hour truce that was supposed to end at 8 p.m. Israeli time. Israel said it was prepared to honor the cease-fire until midnight, but within minutes of the end of the original deadline, at least three rockets were fired at Israel, according to the Israeli Defense Forces.
However, The Associated Press reported that five rockets were launched by Hamas. At least two of those rockets were targeting Tel Aviv, causing police in the city to dissolve a peace rally attended by thousands. Meanwhile, IDF confirmed via Twitter that Iron Dome intercepted two rockets above the city of Ashkelon.
Shortly before the rockets were launched at Israel, a spokesperson for Hamas sent a text message to reporters that said: "No agreement to extending the calm for an additional four hours."
According to Reuters, Secretary of State John Kerry and other foreign ministers in Paris on Saturday night to discuss the possibility of a longer cease-fire. "By the same token, the Palestinians can’t have a cease-fire in which they think the status quo is going to stay," Kerry said Saturday, as quoted by The New York Times. "Palestinians need to live with dignity, with some freedom, with goods that can come in and out, and they need a life that is free from the current restraints."
However, no representatives from Egypt, Israel or Palestine are attending the Paris meeting, making Israeli leaders doubt the possibility of a true.
"I think we are very far from a diplomatic solution. It makes much more sense that we are closer to expanding the military operation," Israel security cabinet member Gilad Erdan told Israel's Channel 2 Television, as quoted by Reuters.
The death toll in Gaza climbed to more than 1,000 after 19 days of air strikes and raids, BBC News reported. A majority of the victims are Palestinian civilians. Palestinian health officials said nearly 6,000 Palestinians have been wounded since the conflict began.
According to the IDF, two Israeli soldiers were killed in an attack on Friday, bringing the Israeli military death count to 40 soldiers. The IDF added that it discovered four more secretive Hamas tunnels on Saturday, as part of the military's "new phase" of Operation Protective Edge.
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