Israel 'willing to extend Gaza ceasefire'


Israel is willing to extend a ceasefire that ended a month of fighting in Gaza beyond a Friday deadline, an Israeli official has said, but Hamas has denied that a new deal has been reached.

The official, quoted by the Reuters news agency, said: "Israel has expressed its readiness to extend the truce under its current terms," referring to the 72-hour deal brokered by Egypt that took effect on Tuesday.

But Hamas deputy leader Musa Mohammed Abu Marzouk, part of the Palestinian delegation holding talks in Cairo, denied on Wednesday night that there was yet any agreement for an extension.

"There is no agreement to extend the ceasefire," he wrote on Twitter.

"Any news about the extension of the truce is unfounded," added Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri.

Earlier on Wednesday, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended his country's military actions during the four-week-long assault, blaming Hamas for the fatalities in Gaza.

In a news conference in West Jerusalem, Netanyahu said: "Israel deeply regrets every civilian casualties. The people of Gaza are not our enemy, our enemy is Hamas".

"Every civilian casualty is a tragedy, a tragedy of Hamas's own making."

His comments came as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the deaths in Gaza "have shocked and shamed the world".

The UN chief has also called for investigation into bombing of UN facility in Gaza. 

"Attacks against UN premises, along with other suspected breaches of international law, must be swiftly investigated," he added.

Source : Aljazeera