Israel, Hamas Agree To Cease-Fire Extension
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
Palestinian leaders say that Hamas and Israel have agreed to a five-day extension of a cease-fire so that peace talks can continue. The talks are aimed at ending the month-long war in Gaza. The two sides exchanged rockets and airstrikes as the initial cease-fire expired, but it has been quiet since. This five-day truce is the latest in a long series of cease-fires since fighting broke out between Hamas and Israel in July. NPR's Jackie Northam has the latest from Jerusalem.
JACKIE NORTHAM, BYLINE: Egyptian negotiators spent three very long days and nights during a fragile 72-hour cease-fire, shuttling between delegations from Hamas and Israel, trying to reach an agreement that would lead to a lengthy truce between the two sides. With just 15 minutes to go before the midnight deadline, Palestinian leaders announced the cease-fire would be extended. But by that point, at least five rockets had already been launched from Gaza into southern Israel, and the Israeli military responded with several airstrikes. It wasn't, perhaps, the best start to a five-day cease-fire extension. Still, there haven't been any cross-border attacks since then, and the Egyptian-brokered talks are continuing. Among other things, Hamas wants a full lifting of a seven-year blockade of the Gaza Strip. But Israel is concerned that would allow more weapons and building material for tunnels to get into the area. Israeli media says Israel is prepared to ease some restrictions on passage of people and goods in and out of Gaza and to double the fishing zone from three to six miles. For its part, Israel wants Gaza demilitarized, something Hamas says is inconceivable. Analysts say it will take much longer than this new, five-day cease-fire to come to an agreement on these seemingly intractable issues. Jackie Northam. NPR news, Jerusalem.