Israel and Hamas announce a new 72-hour Gaza ceasefire
A displaced Palestinian family returns home amid the destruction in part of the northern Beit Hanun district of Gaza Strip (AFP)

Israel and Hamas-led Palestinian factions have agreed a new 72-hour Gaza ceasefire, officials on both sides said Sunday, paving the way for fresh talks over a longer-term truce.

The deal, proposed by Egypt, would see a ceasefire come into effect from 2100 GMT on Sunday evening.

Israeli officials confirmed their side’s consent to the deal and said that they would send negotiators back to Cairo on Monday if the truce holds to resume talks on a more comprehensive Gaza agreement.

Israel had walked away from ceasefire talks over the weekend after militants resumed their rocket fire on southern Israel with the expiration of an earlier three-day truce.

A Hamas official said his side had also accepted the deal and was ready to continue peace talks.

“In light of Israel’s acceptance of the truce and their return (to talks) without pre-conditions ... we will inform the Egyptian brothers of our positive response,” Izzat al-Reshiq, a Hamas negotiator in Cairo, told Reuters.

Reshiq said the Palestinian factions had not given up any of their demands, which include an end to the blockade of Gaza and the release of prisoners.

The Egyptian-mediated talks are aimed at reaching a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas-led militants following the heaviest fighting between the bitter enemies since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007.

Rocket fire, airstrikes continue

In nearly a month of fighting, more than 1,900 Palestinians were killed, including hundreds of civilians, nearly 10,000 were wounded and thousands of homes were destroyed. Sixty-seven people were killed on the Israeli side, including three civilians.

The fighting ended in a 72-hour ceasefire last Tuesday, during which Egypt had hoped to mediate a longer-term agreement. But when the three-day window expired, militants resumed their rocket fire, sparking Israeli reprisals. The violence has continued throughout the weekend, albeit at a lower level than during the height of the war.

Earlier Sunday, Palestinians threatened to quit the negotiations if Israel did not return, while Israeli leaders said there would be no talks while the rocket fire continues.

“Israel will not negotiate under fire,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday, warning that his country’s military campaign “will take time”.

The Israeli military said rocket fire continued throughout the day, with at least 24 projectiles fired into Israel. Israel responded with some 35 airstrikes, the military said.

Gaza officials said at least three people, including a 14-year-old boy and a woman, were killed in the airstrikes. Israel said it closed a main cargo crossing used to deliver goods into Gaza in response to rocket fire.