An Iron Dome air defence system fires to intercept a rocket from Gaza Strip in Ashkelon.

An Iron Dome air defence system fires to intercept a rocket from Gaza Strip in Ashkelon.

The head of the Palestinian delegation negotiating a truce with Israel says Hamas has agreed to extend a ceasefire for another five days.

Azzam al-Ahmad said the ceasefire was meant to ensure a “positive atmosphere”, while noting there had been “lots of progress” in the talks.

A Hamas official earlier said the truce had been extended for 72 hours.

Israeli officials have declined to comment.

The Israeli military says at least three rockets have been fired at Israel despite Hamas saying the ceasefire is extended.

Earlier, Israeli police said a rocket landed in Israel two hours before the end of the truce. It fell in an open area and caused no damage or injuries, a spokeswoman said.

As Jewish News went to press last night, diplomats aiming to broker a lasting truce between Israel and Hamas were locked in discussions in Cairo. The skies above Gaza were quiet, as Israeli and Palestinian envoys mulled a truce proposal put forward by Egyptian mediators.

The offer reportedly promises a partial lifting of the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza, but it was unclear what – if anything – Hamas would do in return.

Across the region, there was an air of tension, as the end of the second 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire approached with no outward sign of progress. Both sides had earlier come armed with preconditions, as emotions ran high following a month of painful losses.

However, several commentators voiced hopes of a breakthrough, amid widespread acceptance that renewed violence was in neither side’s interest. Since the fighting ended, Israel has said that the demilitarisation of the Strip is a must, while Hamas wants restrictions on trade and people eased, as well as hundreds of prisoners released.

The tense talking took place against the backdrop of a “humanitarian crisis” unfolding in the badly damaged territory, with international aid agencies scrambling to help up to half a million displaced people. As emergency relief efforts focused on the provision of food, water, shelter and medical supplies, Palestinian negotiators made their demands known, among them the construction of an airport and seaport.

“We might not get everything we want,” said a Palestinian negotiator. “But we believe the Israelis and the world have got the point that Gazans should live normally and things should be much better than today.”

Israel said it may release prisoners in exchange for the remains of two Israeli soldiers killed in action. It may also increase the number of people and trucks moving in and out of the territory, and expand the fishing zone off the coast of Gaza from three miles to six.

Israeli negotiators are understood to be maintaining their insistence on supervising goods brought into the Strip. “Terrorists don’t get seaports or other rewards,” said Israeli Justice Minister and chief negotiator Tzipi Livni.