Israel, Palestinians extend Gaza truce by 24 hours

Aug 18, 2014, 6:06 PM EDT
GAZA BORDER, ISRAEL - AUGUST 03: Israeli soldiers return from Gaza on August 3, 2014 near the border with Gaza, Israel. As Operation Protective Edge enters its 27th day, a large amount of Israeli ground troops are believed to have left the Gaza Strip. Credit Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images
Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images

Israel and the Palestinians agreed on Monday to extend a Gaza truce by 24 hours ahead of the expiration of an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire.

According to Reuters:

Agreement was reached as gaps on key issues continued to dog efforts to achieve a long-term deal between Israel and militant groups in the Gaza Strip, dominated by Hamas Islamists, which would allow reconstruction aid to flow in after five weeks of fighting.
The monthlong war ended in effect more than a week ago when Egypt brokered a three-day truce, which it then won agreement to extend by another five days through 2100 GMT on Monday.
A Palestinian official close to the talks in Cairo said the latest extension would give both sides time "to complete the negotiations".
An Israeli official and a security source said in Jerusalem that "on Egypt's request the ceasefire shall be extended by 24 hours to allow further negotiations".
In Gaza a senior Palestinian official said agreement had been reached on all but two points drafted by Egypt for a wider deal, including opening Gaza's crossing to allow a freer flow of goods, and extending maritime limits in the Mediterranean Sea.
As the Wall Street Journal points out, the announcement still leaves a lot of questions unanswered about whether gaps between the sides have narrowed:
In announcing the extended truce, there were no indications from the negotiators whether the wide gaps between the two sides had narrowed at the Egyptian-mediated talks seeking a longer-term agreement to end the third major military confrontation between Israel and Hamas since 2007.
At the same time, both appear to have little appetite for resuming the fighting, raising the prospect that the latest and costliest military confrontation between Israel and Hamas could end with each side unilaterally declaring a truce.
Both sides publicly insisted they wouldn't back down on their negotiating demands. Hamas wants an end to the Israel and Egyptian economic blockade of the Gaza Strip. Israel is demanding the demilitarization of the territory.