PARIS, July 26 (RIA Novosti) – International mediators have called for an extension of the 12-hour humanitarian pause that entered into force in the Gaza Strip early Saturday, Agence France Presse reported Saturday quoting French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
Earlier in the day, Fabius met with his Western colleagues in Paris to discuss the situation in Gaza and back the joint efforts aimed at solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The meeting was also attended by diplomats from the UK, Germany, Qatar, Turkey, Italy, the United States and the European Union.
"We all call on parties to extend the humanitarian ceasefire currently in force, by 24 hours that could be renewed," Fabius was quoted as saying.
"We all want to obtain a lasting ceasefire as quickly as possible that addresses both Israeli requirements in terms of security and Palestinian requirements in terms of socio-economic development," the French foreign minister elaborated.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced early Saturday that the fire was stopped from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Israeli summer time (05:00-17:00 GMT), and warned that they would respond to any attempt by the militants to disrupt the agreement. Israeli servicemen warned that they would not leave unanswered any raids and would not stop destructing dozens of underground tunnels dug by Hamas militants to sneak into Israel.
It was supposed that the truce would allow the civilian population in the enclave to replenish its food and medical supplies and to move from the conflict zone to safer areas.
Soon after the truce went into effect, the Gaza health ministry reported that the death toll from the conflict raging for about three weeks had topped 900.
Israel launched its Operation Protective Edge to put an end to rocket fire from Gaza and undermining the Hamas movement, which controls the region, back on July 8.
On July 17, the Israeli Army switched to a ground assault largely aimed at demolishing the tunnels.