israelis return
Israeli soldiers return from the Hamas-controlled Palestinian coastal enclaveAFP

The Israeli government and Palestinian militants have agreed to extend the ceasefire in Gaza by another five days.

The news came just minutes before a three day truce was due to expire.

Head of the Palestinian delegation in Cairo, Azzam al-Ahmed, confirmed the news, telling AFP news agency: "We have agreed to give more time for the negotiations."

The ceasefire, which began on Sunday night (10 August) comes despite Israeli claims that three rockets were fired into the country two hours before the truce was due to end at 10pm UK time.

While Hamas militants have denied any responsibility for firing the rockets, Israel has retaliated by launching air strikes on Gaza, just as an agreement had been reached on extending the truce.

It is not yet clear whether the latest strikes will be upheld as a major breach of the ceasefire.

Officials from both sides have been holding indirect talks in the Egyptian capital. It's hoped that the extension of the truce, will allow peace talks to continue in search of a long-term resolution to the month-long Gaza conflict.

The delegation head, Azzam al Ahmad, said he hoped a final deal would be reached in the coming weeks, with Arab and international backing.

All You Need to Know about Gaza in One Clear Animated MapIBTimes UK

He said the ceasefire was meant to ensure a "positive atmosphere", while noting there had been "lots of progress" in the talks.

Mr al Ahmad added that Israel had conceded some ground, but not on the crucial point of ending the blockade of Gaza.

The Palestinian delegation has now left Cairo to consult with leader Mahmoud Abbas.

More than 10,000 homes have been destroyed in Gaza since July 8 and more than 1,950 Palestinians have been killed in five weeks of fighting in Gaza, most of them civilians.

67 people are reported dead on the Israeli side. All but two are military personnel.