Update at 8:55 a.m. ET.
NPR’s Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports from Jerusalem this morning that a 12-hour humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza that went into effect at 8 a.m. Israeli time (1 a.m. ET) looks to be holding.
Hundreds of Gaza residents were taking advantage of relative calm to stock up on supplies. Some 18 days ago, Israel launched an offensive against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, hoping to wipe out sites lobbing rockets across the border and to destroy tunnels allegedly used to transport fighters and weapons.
Reporters from The Los Angeles Times in Gaza City say “scores of bodies were pulled from [under] the rubble where they had lain for days.”
But, despite Saturday’s cease-fire, Israeli forces in Gaza are continuing to search out and eliminate the Hamas-built tunnels. The Israeli military says it has uncovered 31 concrete-lined tunnels so far, 11 of which were destroyed, Soraya says.
The West Bank and Jerusalem are also quiet following a number of Palestinian protests against Israel Friday that led to at least five people being killed.
A Hamas spokesman says all Palestinian factions will abide by the temporary cease-fire.
Nearly 1,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed in the fighting and almost 6,000 wounded, according to Ashraf al-Kidra, a spokesman for the health ministry in Gaza. Israel says 37 of its troops and three civilians have been killed.
News of the truce came on Friday after extensive and so far unsuccessful U.S. efforts to reach a broader truce. Despite reports by Israeli media that a deal being brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for a seven-day cease-fire had collapsed, Kerry insisted on Friday that it was only a matter of working through the details.
“They may have rejected some language or suggestion, but there was no formal proposal submitted by me on which a vote was ripe,” he said.
“There’s always mischief from people who oppose things. So, I consider that a mischievous leak,” Kerry said of the reports that Israel’s Security Cabinet had rejected the truce proposal outright.
Foreign ministers from seven nations have called for an extension of the cease-fire, according to Reuters, which quotes France’s Laurent Fabius as saying “All of us call on the parties to extend the military cease-fire that is currently underway.”
As The Associated Press notes: “[The] temporary lull was unlikely to change the trajectory of the current hostilities amid ominous signs that the Gaza war is spilling over into the West Bank.”
“In a ‘Day of Rage,’ Palestinians across the territory, which had been relatively calm for years, staged protests against Israel’s Gaza operation and the rising casualty toll there. In the West Bank, at least six Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire, hospital officials said.”