Egypt late Monday announced a 24-hour extension in talks between Israel and the Hamas militant group aimed at salvaging a long-term arrangement that would allow reconstruction of the Gaza Strip following a monthlong war that killed more than 2,000 people.
The announcement came just minutes before a temporary truce was set to expire at midnight, averting a resumption of the fighting that has caused devastating damage across Gaza and disrupted life throughout southern Israel.
"Palestinians and Israelis agreed on extending the cease-fire by 24 hours to continue current negotiations," the Egyptian government said in a statement. Palestinian and Israeli officials confirmed they had accepted Egypt's request for an extension.
A Palestinian negotiator said the sides had exchanged draft proposals for a long-term truce that were to be addressed during the 24-hour extension in talks. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media.
Since last week, Egypt has been hosting indirect talks between Israel and Hamas aimed at ending the war.
Gaza Health Ministry official Ashraf al-Kidra said Monday the death toll from the fighting had jumped to over 2,000 Palestinians, the majority of them civilians, while U.N. officials, who often take more time to verify figures, put the number at 1,976. Thousands of homes were destroyed, and tens of thousands of people remain huddled in U.N. shelters. Israel lost 67 people, all but three of them soldiers.