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Palestinians accuse Israel of breaking 7-hour Gaza truce

Updated: 2014-08-05 06:51
By Reuters in Gaza/Jerusalem ( China Daily)

A seven-hour truce under which Israel would unilaterally hold its fire in most of the Gaza Strip went into force on Monday, but Palestinians immediately accused Israel of breaking the cease-fire by bombing a house in Gaza City.

Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qidra said 15 people were wounded in the strike on a house in Shati camp.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said she was checking the report.

Israel announced a temporary cease-fire to facilitate the entry of humanitarian aid and allow some of the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians displaced by the nearly 4-week-old war to go home.

The announcement was met with suspicion from Gaza's dominant Hamas Islamists and followed unusually strong censure from Washington at the apparent Israeli shelling of a UN-run shelter that killed 10 people on Sunday.

An Israeli defense official said the cease-fire, from 10 am to 5 pm local time, would apply everywhere but areas of the southern town of Rafah, where ground forces have intensified assaults after three soldiers died in a Hamas ambush there on Friday.

"If the truce is breached, the military will return fire during the declared duration of the truce," the official said. The official said east Rafah was the only urban area in which troops and tanks were still present, having been withdrawn or redeployed near Gaza's border with Israel over the weekend.

Hamas, whose envoys are in Egypt for truce negotiations that Israel has shunned in anger at Friday's ambush in Rafah, saw a possible ruse in the humanitarian truce announcement.

"The calm Israel declared is unilateral and aims to divert attention away from the Israeli massacres. We do not trust such a calm, and we urge our people to exercise caution," said the group's spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri.

Israel is winding down its offensive in the absence of a mediated disengagement deal with Hamas. It says the military is close to completing its main objective of destroying cross-border infiltration tunnels from Gaza and is prepared to resume strikes in response to any attacks by the Palestinians.

The Israeli chief military spokesman said forces were deployed along both sides of the Gaza border.

"Redeployment lets us work on the tunnels, provides defense and lets the forces set up for further activity. There is no ending here, perhaps an interim phase," Brigadier-General Motti Almoz told Army Radio.

 

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