Gaza ceasefire extended after talks in Cairo

Aug 19, 2014, 7:24 AM EDT
Palestinians look for positions to pray at Friday noon prayers at Al-Susi Mosque on August 15, 2014 in Gaza City, Gaza.
AFP/Getty Images

The truce was extended until midnight on Tuesday to allow talks on a more long-term arrangement.

However, Palestinian officials say discussions are continuing but that there has been "no progress" on reaching an agreement with Israel. The BBC writes:

"We hope that every minute of the coming 24 hours will be used to reach an agreement, and if not (successful), the circle of violence will continue," Ahmad said. He accused Israel of "maneuvering and stalling" 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.

Senior Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk accused Israel of stalling and insisted in a post on his Twitter account that the group "will never cede any" demands for a comprehensive deal.

A senior Palestinian official in Gaza said sticking points to an agreement were Hamas's demands to build a seaport and an airport, which Israel wants to discuss only at a later stage. Israel, which launched its offensive on July 8 after a surge in Hamas rocket fire across the border, has shown scant interest in making sweeping concessions, and has called for the disarming of militant groups in the enclave of 1.8 million people.

As talks continue, there are reports that Gaza's zoo animals have been caught in the violent crossfire. CNN reports:

The carcasses of dead animals, mostly monkeys, lay scattered across the scorched grass between the pens. In one of the cages, a dead peacock lays in front of two hungry lions. In another, a crocodile lounges in the hot sun; there is almost no water in the enclosure, which also holds a pelican and a duck. The zoo, part of the Al-Bisan recreational park in Jabalya, northern Gaza, was hit multiple times during the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas militants.

Many of the animals seem weak and traumatized. Staff members say that on top of the injuries some of the animals sustained during the violence, many also have not eaten in days because the zoo lacks funds to buy food, and they're getting virtually no assistance.

"The situation is very bad," said Sameer. "We can't get the animals out to clean the cages. Many of them are getting sick because they are weak and it is dirty. But we don't have any alternative places."

The situation is most dire for the lions, according to Sameer. One was killed during the conflict and three remain in the zoo. Sameer says he does not have the funds to buy them the meat they need. "They have not eaten for 10 to 15 days," he said. "We could not reach them during the fighting. When it got calmer at least we could bring them some water."