During the brief halt in Israeli bombardment on Saturday, Palestinian residents and medics have managed to retrieve the bodies of 135 Palestinians, mainly in Shuja’eyya, whose deaths had previously gone unreported because their whereabouts were unknown. Around 7 pm, Israeli officials announced that they would hold off on the resumption of bombardment of Gaza until 11 pm.The Hamas party in Gaza had called for a ten-year truce with Israel, based on several conditions: that Israel lift the siege on Gaza that began in 2006 and has devastated the Palestinian economy, that Palestinians abducted by Israel since early June be released, and that access to travel to Jerusalem be restored.
These conditions, which are based in international law and are basic human rights under internationally-recognized conventions, have been rejected outright by Israeli authorities, who refused to even consider an extension of the 12-hour ‘temporary ceasefire’ for one week.
The U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the French Foreign Minister had pleaded with Israel to extend the ceasefire at least for a few days, but Israeli officials refused.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters, ‘We all call on parties to extend the humanitarian ceasefire. 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 socioeconomic development.’
The meeting had included foreign ministers from the US, France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Qatar, Turkey, and the EU.
During the 12-hour ceasefire on Saturday, Palestinians returned to Shuja’eyya neighborhood for the first time since a mass exodus on Sunday July 20th to find the neighborhood turned to rubble.
The Israeli forces, for their part, used the twelve-hour cessation of bombing to dig tunnels and trenches, put up barricades and construct sand-bag walls, indicating that they plan an extended offensive in Gaza, and will likely re-start their bombing campaign and invasion as soon as the 11:00 pm deadline hits.