Israeli soldiers carry the flag-draped coffin of fallen
reserve Israeli soldier Yair Ashkenazy during his funeral
in Rehovot, near Tel Aviv. Photo by Reuters
Israel and Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza Strip
have agreed to a UN-requested 12-hour humanitarian truce and
efforts to secure a long-term cease-fire moved ahead.
Israel's military said it would hold fire starting at 8am
(local time) but would continue searching for tunnels used by
militants. A spokesman for the Islamist group Hamas, which is
dominant in the Gaza Strip, said all Palestinian factions
would abide by the brief truce.
Fighting continued overnight as US Secretary of State John
Kerry, on a visit to the region, has been spearheading
international efforts to end 19 days of fighting.
Gaza officials said five people were killed in Israeli air
strikes, bringing the Palestinian death toll to 865, most of
Earlier, militants fired a barrage of rockets out of Gaza,
triggering sirens across much of southern and central Israel.
No injuries were reported, with the Iron Dome interceptor
system knocking out many of the missiles.
Israel on Friday rejected international proposals for a more
permanent ceasefire, a government source said, but Kerry,
speaking in Cairo, said no formal proposals had yet been put
The top U.S. diplomat said there were still disagreements on
the terminology, but he was confident there was a framework
that would ultimately succeed and that "serious progress" had
been made, although there was more work to do.
Truce efforts will continue in Paris on Saturday when France
hosts diplomats from the United States, Britain, Germany,
Italy, the European Union, Turkey and Qatar, a French
diplomatic source said.
Hamas wants an end to an Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza
before agreeing to halt hostilities. Israeli officials said
any cease-fire must allow the military to carry on hunting
down Hamas's tunnel network that criss-crosses the Gaza
Israel said three more of its soldiers were killed in Gaza on
Friday, bringing the army death toll to 35, as troops battled
militants in the north, east and south of Gaza - a tiny
Mediterranean enclave that is home to 1.8 million
It also announced that a soldier unaccounted for after an
ambush in Gaza six days ago was definitely dead, although his
body had not been recovered. Hamas said on Sunday it had
captured the man but did not release a photograph of him.
Three civilians have also been killed in Israel by rockets
from Gaza - the kind of attack that surged last month amid
Hamas's anger at a crackdown on its activists in the West
Bank, prompting the July 8 launch of the Israeli offensive.
The Gaza turmoil has stoked tensions in the nearby occupied
West Bank, where US-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud
Abbas governs in uneasy coordination with Israel.
Medics said eight Palestinians were killed in separate
incidents near the cities of Nablus and Hebron on Friday,
including one shooting that witnesses blamed on an apparent
On Thursday night, 10,000 demonstrators marched in solidarity
with Gaza near the Palestinian administrative capital
Ramallah - a scale recalling mass revolts of the past.
Protesters surged against an Israeli army checkpoint,
throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails, and Palestinian medics
said one was shot dead and 200 wounded when troops opened
Abbas's Palestine Liberation Organization called for more
demonstrations in the West Bank and said it was at the same
time working to secure a cease-fire deal.