Israel, Hamas trade fire despite truce in Gaza; toll 1060

Source : PTI
By : Harinder Mishra
Last Updated: Sun, Jul 27, 2014 23:27 hrs

Gaza/Jerusalem: Ahead of the Muslim festival of Eid, Hamas today agreed to a 24-hour UN-brokered humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza but despite the truce continued to exchange fire with Israel on the 20th day of the conflict that has killed over 1,060 Palestinians and 46 Israelis, including an Indian-origin soldier.

After initially rejecting the truce, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement, "As a preparation for the end of Ramadan and in response to the UN mediation and also regarding our people's living circumstances, we have agreed with all Palestinian factions to give a 24-hour humanitarian ceasefire starting from 14:00 on Sunday,"

Israel late last night had extended by another 24 hours the truce announced yesterday, but Hamas had rejected it saying no ceasefire is valid without Israeli troops and tanks withdrawing from Gaza and that it would only halt rocket attacks on Israel once the displaced were allowed to return home.

Both sides accused each other of violating the ceasefire.

Hamas militants began firing rockets again this afternoon, blaming a "lack of commitment" from Israel.

The Qassam Brigades said on its websites it launched five rockets at Kiryat Gat. The announcement coincided with an Israel Defense Forces tweet that said it intercepted four rockets and one hit an open area. Another rocket today hit a house, slightly wounding an Israeli civilian.

Israel said it had resumed its offensive because it was still being attacked.

"Following Hamas' incessant rocket fire throughout the humanitarian window, which was agreed upon for the welfare of the civilian population in Gaza, the IDF will now resume its aerial, naval and ground activity in the Gaza Strip," the IDF said.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today accused Hamas of violating the ceasefire that it had itself called and vowed that Israeli operations in Gaza would go on.

"They (Hamas) are violating their own ceasefire. Under these circumstances, Israel will do what it must do to defend its people," Netanyahu told CNN.

During the original 12-hour ceasefire, Palestinians frantically scoured through rubble with medics saying over 130 bodies had been retrieved across the Gaza Strip.

The health ministry in Gaza said over 1,060 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed and about 6,000 wounded since Israel launched its Gaza offensive on July 8.

Meanwhile, 46 Israelis have been killed in the fighting in the Gaza Strip aimed at ending rocket fire against Israel and destroying a sophisticated network of cross-border tunnels. Sergeant First Class Barak Refael Degorker, a 27-year-old Indian-origin reservist, was among the dead.

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