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Gaza conflict: Israel and Hamas agree to extend ceasefire by five days

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cease fire Hamas and Israel have agreed five more days of truce and talks after a tense final countdown to the end of the current 72-hour ceasefire on Wednesday night.

The current truce, which is the eighth bid to stop the five-week long war, had been due to expire at midnight, and rocket fire on Israel two hours before its end prompted fears of a new outbreak of violence.

Hamas, the Islamist organisation in power in Gaza, denied they had launched rockets, however, and shortly before midnight Palestinian delegates in Cairo announced the extension.

"There will be a five-day ceasefire to give more opportunity for negotiation," Gamal Shobky, the Palestinian ambassador in Cairo, told the Guardian. "We are very close but there are still some things to resolve."

The news will be welcomed in Gaza, battered by a month-long conflict which inflicted massive damage on infrastructure and housing, as well as killing nearly 2,000 people, mostly civilians. Sixty four Israeli soldiers died, and three civilians in Israel were killed by rocket fire.

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