Israel and the Palestinians agreed on Wednesday to extend a Gaza truce by five days minutes before an earlier ceasefire was set to expire, a Palestinian official said in Cairo.
But the deal got off to a shaky start. Israel, which had no comment, bombed several Gaza sites early on Thursday, minutes after the truce extension was to have taken hold, in response to Palestinian rocket fire that violated the earlier truce.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered Israeli forces to "respond" to two instances of rocket fire by Gaza militants at Israel in violation of the truce on Wednesday. The rockets caused no damage or casualties, and one was shot down by Israel's Iron Dome missile interceptor.
There were no reported casualties in the Israeli air raids that targeted at least three sites in northern Gaza, witnesses and Hamas said. Hamas denied involvement in one of the rocket shootings which sent sirens wailing across southern Israel.
The Israeli military said it was "targeting terror sites across the Gaza Strip." Shortly afterwards, more sirens warning of rocket fire from Gaza were sounded early on Thursday.
As truce negotiations dragged on during Wednesday, Israel moved forces closer to Gaza and called up additional reservist troops, Israeli media reported. The military said its forces were "moved around on a routine basis" and would not elaborate.
In announcing the truce extension, Azzam Al-Ahmed, the head Palestinian negotiator in Egypt, a member of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's mainstream Fatah faction said on Wednesday evening in Cairo that "it was agreed to extend ceasefire by five days."
Abu Mujahed, spokesman for leading Gaza militant group the Popular Resistance Committees, told Reuters Palestinian factions had "accepted" that proposal.
The extension came in lieu of a broader deal which the parties meeting in indirect talks brokered by Egypt failed to reach in time for the earlier truce deadline.
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A Palestinian official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Egypt had presented a new proposal for a permanent truce agreement that addressed a major Palestinian demand for a lifting of the Israeli and Egyptian blockades of the Gaza Strip.
Israel and Egypt harbor deep security concerns about Hamas, the dominant Islamist group in the small, Mediterranean coastal enclave, complicating any deal on easing border restrictions.
Israel wants Gaza demilitarized
It was unclear how those worries, along with Israel's demand for Gaza's demilitarization, would be dealt with. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said disarming was not an option.