The Associated Press writes, “Palestinians carry their belongings through rubble of houses destroyed by Israeli strikes, as they visit the area during a 12-hour cease-fire in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip on Saturday. ...Thousands of Gaza residents who had fled Israel-Hamas fighting streamed back to devastated border areas during a lull Saturday to find large-scale destruction: scores of homes were pulverized, wreckage blocked roads and power cables dangled in the streets.” (AP/Lefteris Pitarakis)
According to Al-Jazeera, 76 bodies were recovered from the rubble in Gaza during a 12-hour humanitarian cease-fire that began Saturday morning, but an emergency services spokesperson has stated that “the toll was expected to rise further still.” The IDF cautioned that it would “respond” if attacked during the truce, as Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon warned that the country’s operations in Gaza could soon be expanded “significantly.”
The BBC reports that the Palestinian death toll in Gaza is now nearing 950, with 5,870 injured; since the beginning of the 19-day operation, there have been 38 Israeli casualties, a majority of which have been soldiers.
Also according to Al-Jazeera, Israel TV reported that the Israeli government had refused a “US-initiated proposal for a full truce in the Gaza Strip” on Friday, a plan that would have allowed for a week cessation of fighting while Hamas and Israel negotiated the terms of the truce. Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed during a news conference that the proposal had been rejected, however, he also stated that “diplomats were still trying to agree to a deal.”
Truthdig contributor Juan Cole calls the cease-fire “phony,” writing that “unless the siege on Gaza is lifted, any cease-fire is just a prelude to another war.”
US Secretary of State John Kerry is meeting the foreign ministers of Turkey, Qatar and some European countries in Paris in the hopes of agreeing a longer ceasefire.
Mr Kerry spent a week in the Middle East attempting to broker a deal before leaving Egypt on Friday.
“The goal is to bring together international efforts so that as quickly as possible conditions for a cease-fire in Gaza emerge,” said a French foreign ministry spokesman.
Hamas insists that any ceasefire should include a lifting of the blockade imposed on Gaza by Israel and Egypt since 2007.
—Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata
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