Indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas are moving forward as both sides agree to extend their cease-fire for five days, according to several news reports.
A Palestinian negotiator in Cairo reported agreement “on many points” Thursday, according to the French news agency AFP.
Meanwhile, eight rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel on Wednesday night, including a rocket that was intercepted by the Iron Dome System over Philadelphia's partnership city Netivot, starting two hours before the cease-fire was scheduled to expire at midnight. No injuries or damage were reported, though a rocket did fall in an open area of Sdot Negev, the region that encircles Netivot. Hamas denied firing the rockets.
Air sirens sounded in the Eshkol Regional Council at 10:10 a.m. on Thursday morning but the IDF announced that the alarm was faulty.
The head of the Palestinian delegation, Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmed, announced the extension, according to the French news agency AFP. A cease-fire extension was reported as well on the Hamas and Islamic Jihad television stations, according to the Times of Israel. No Israeli officials appeared to confirm, however.
Meanwhile, a separate rocket landed on an Egyptian house near the Gaza border on Wednesday night, killing a 13-year-old girl. Two of the girl’s siblings were injured in the attack in el-Mattallah, a Sinai town, but it is not clear from where the rocket was fired, the Times of Israel reported.
In another incident Wednesday, an Italian journalist, his translator and three Palestinian bomb disposal experts were killed in Gaza while trying to defuse an unexploded Israeli missile.
Also Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indicated that he will not cooperate with a United Nations commission investigating Israel’s conduct during its war in Gaza. Most ministers in the government also oppose any dealings with the U.N. team, the Times of Israel reported.
In a video posted on his official Facebook page, Netanyahu criticized the U.N. Human Rights Council for failing to investigate Hamas’ attacks against Israeli civilians and its use of the people of Gaza as “human shields,” as well as the “massacre” of Syrian civilians and atrocities committed by Islamic State fighters in Iraq.
“This commission’s report has already been written, the one leading it [Canadian law professor William Schabas] has already decided that Hamas is not a terrorist organization, and that’s why there is nothing for them to do here,” he said.
“First, let them visit Damascus, Baghdad, Tripoli. Let them see the Islamic State, the Syrian army, let them see Hamas — that’s where they’ll find war crimes, not here.”
On Wednesday afternoon, Netanyahu met with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and thanked him for standing with Israel and rejecting the “false moral symmetry” between Israel and Hamas.
“Hamas continues to do these horrible things that ISIS does: They persecute Christians, they persecute gays, they persecute women, they basically reject modernity and there are a terrorist tyranny that is imposed on their people. And where their people reject being used as human shields, you know what they do, Governor? They execute them,” Netanyahu told Cuomo during the Jerusalem meeting.
“This is the kind of moral divide that is evident today in the world, and on one side you have Israel and the United States representing democracies committing to human rights, committing to a real future for our people; and on the other side, you have the likes of ISIS and Hamas, Islamist tyrannies that have no inhibition and pursue their grisly creeds and their grisly deeds.”