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Israel extends Gaza ceasefire for 24 hours

While the humanitarian ceasefire in the Gaza Strip has been extended, Hamas has rejected some terms.

Smoke billows from a building on fire in the northern district of Beit Hanun in the Gaza Strip during an humanitarian truce, on 26 July, 2014. Picture: AFP.

GAZA/JERUSALEM - Israel extended a humanitarian ceasefire in the Gaza Strip for another 24 hours, but Hamas, which dominates the coastal enclave, said it would only accept the truce if Israeli troops left the territory.

Israeli ministers had signalled that a comprehensive deal to end the 20-day conflict with Hamas and its allies, in which at least 1,050 Gazans - mostly civilians - have been killed, and 42 soldiers and three civilians in Israel have died, was remote.

"At the request of the United Nations, the cabinet has approved a humanitarian hiatus until tomorrow at 2400," the official, who was not named, said in a statement after the cabinet session held in Tel Aviv had ended. "The IDF (Israel Defence Forces) will act against any breach of the ceasefire."

On Saturday, Gazans took advantage of the lull in fighting to recover their dead and stock up on food supplies, flooding into the streets after the ceasefire began at 8 am to discover scenes of massive destruction in some areas.

Palestininans go their way past rubbles and a mini ferris wheel in the northern district of Beit Hanun in the Gaza Strip, during an humanitarian truce, on July 26, 2014.

The positions of both Israel and Hamas regarding a long-lasting halt to hostilities have remained far apart.

Hamas wants an end to an Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza before agreeing to halt hostilities. Israeli officials said any ceasefire must allow the military to carry on hunting down the Hamas tunnel network that criss-crosses the Gaza border.

A Palestinian woman pauses amid destroyed buildings in the northern district of Beit Hanun in the Gaza Strip during a humanitarian truce on 26 July, 2014.

Israel says some of the tunnels reach into Israeli territory and are meant to carry out attacks on its citizens. Other underground passages serve as weapons caches and Hamas bunkers. The IDF said it had uncovered four such tunnel shafts inside Gaza during the truce on Saturday.

The Israeli official added that troops would continue to act against any breaches of the ceasefire, adding that the military would continue to act against the tunnels during the entire 24-hour period.

Palestinian women react amid the destruction in the northern district of Beit Hanun in the Gaza Strip during a humanitarian truce on 26 July, 2014. Picture: AFP.

He said the cabinet would reconvene on Sunday to consider a continuation of the operation "until calm is restored to Israeli citizens for an extended period."

The Gaza turmoil has stoked tensions amongst Palestinians in Arab East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.

Medics said eight Palestinians were killed on Friday in incidents near the West Bank cities of Nablus and Hebron - the sort of death toll reminiscent of previous uprisings against Israel's prolonged military rule there.

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