Israel and Hamas agree to fivehour stoppage of hostilities

first_imgISRAEL AND HAMAS have agreed to a UN request to briefly halt hostilities today on humanitarian grounds, after an Israeli strike killed four Palestinian children on a beach, while efforts intensify to secure a formal truce.The sides announced the temporary lull in fighting after a punishing Israeli offensive aimed at halting rocket fire by Gaza militants had resumed when previous Egypt-brokered truce efforts collapsed on Tuesday.Ahead of the five-hour pause, due to begin at 0700 GMT, hostilities continued early Thursday with Israel’s air strikes, on the 10th day of its campaign, taking the toll to 227 killed and 1,678 wounded, Gaza medical services said.A Gaza-based human rights group says more than 80 percent of them were civilians.Since July 8, militants have fired more than 1,200 rockets at Israel. They claimed their first Israeli life on Tuesday.The army said early on Thursday that Israel had conducted 37 raids overnight on Gaza, while seven rockets were fired from Gaza, four of which landed in fields and the rest were intercepted by Israel’s missile defences.Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules Gaza, had rejected initial Egyptian efforts for a full ceasefire, saying it had not been included in the discussions.The Israeli army announced it would halt its bombardment of Gaza between 10:00 am and 3:00 pm (0700 to 1200 GMT) Thursday, following the UN request for a humanitarian truce.Hamas later followed suit. A Palestinian man inspects the damage of a police post, following an Israeli missile strike killing four boys from the same extended Bakr family in Gaza City. Source: AP/Press Association Images‘No safe place’In addition to the four children who died on the Gaza seashore, several people were also wounded in an apparent Israeli naval bombardment, medics said.The first strike scattered terrified children and adults on the beach. A second and third struck as they ran, setting fire to huts on the beach.The strikes appeared to be the result of shelling by the Israeli navy against an area with small shacks used by fishermen.Several children ran inside a hotel where at least three had shrapnel injuries.Several hours after the strikes, the Israeli military described the deaths as “tragic” and said it was investigating the incident.“Based on preliminary results, the target of this strike was Hamas terrorist operatives,” the military said in a statement.“The reported civilian casualties from this strike are a tragic outcome.”The Israeli military dropped flyers and sent text messages Wednesday warning 100,000 people in northeastern Gaza to evacuate their homes ahead of an air campaign targeting “terror sites and operatives” in Zeitun and Shejaiya, two flashpoint districts east of Gaza City.An identical message was sent to Beit Lahiya in the north.But for patients at Al-Wafa hospital in Shejaiya, the warning simply provoked even more fear.“There is no place safe in Gaza,” director Basman Alashi told AFP, adding that most of his patients were completely incapacitated.“If a hospital is not safe, where is?” he said as the sound of nearby shelling rattled the windows.Hamas dismissed the warning as a scare tactic, telling residents there was “no need to worry.”- © AFP, 2014Read: Four children killed by gunfire had ‘gone to the beach to get away from shelling’last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *