Cairo, Aug 19: Egypt announced Monday that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators agreed to extend ceasefire in the Gaza Strip for 24 hours, state media reported. “Both sides have agreed to extend the ceasefire to 24 hours, to continue the ongoing negotiations,” reported Xinhua citing an official Egyptian statement, as a five-day truce was set to expire at midnight Monday.

Palestinian delegation chief Azzam al-Ahmed also confirmed the statement, saying that his delegation accepted Egypt’s call for the extension of the ceasefire by 24 hours. Hours before the new ceasefire announcement, Israel and Hamas hardened their positions, with Israeli officials insisting on Gaza demilitarisation, while Hamas said it would not accept an agreement that does not include lifting the Gaza blockade.

However, a diplomatic source was quoted by the state-run al- Ahram newspaper as saying that issues like re-opening the Gaza airport and seaport will be raised in fresh talks, while Egypt managed to persuade Israel to open five border crossings into the coastal strip.