Times of Oman
Oct 05, 2015 LAST UPDATED AT 02:59 AM GMT
Palestinians accuse Israel of breaking seven-hour Gaza truce
August 4, 2014 | 12:00 AM
An Israeli Merkava tank rolls back from the Gaza Strip to an army base at the Israeli-Gaza border as the sun sets on August 3, 2014. Photo - AFP

Jerusalem: A seven-hour truce under which Israel would unilaterally hold fire in most of the Gaza Strip went into force on Monday and Palestinians immediately accused Israel of breaking the ceasefire 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, mostly women and children.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said she was checking the report.

Israel announced a temporary ceasefire to facilitate the entry of humanitarian aid and allow some of the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians displaced by an almost four-week-old war to go home.

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

An Israeli defence official said the ceasefire, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (0800 to 1500 London 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 The official said east Rafah was the only urban area in which troops and tanks were still present, having been withdrawn or redeployed near Gaza's border with Israel over the weekend.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 defence (of Israeli communities nearby) 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.

In a predawn air strike Israel killed a senior commander of the Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian group fighting alongside Hamas. Islamic Jihad identified him as Danyal Mansour, head of the group's northern command, and said he was killed in a bombing of a house in Jabalya. Almoz confirmed Israeli forces struck him.

Israel launched its offensive on July 8 following a surge in Hamas rocket salvoes. It escalated from air and naval barrages to overland incursions centred on Gaza's tunnel-riddled eastern frontier but also pushing into densely populated towns.

Gaza officials say 1,796 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed and more than a quarter of the impoverished enclave's 1.8 million residents displaced. As many as 3,000 Palestinian homes have been destroyed or damaged.


Many of those evacuees have taken shelter in U.N.-run facilities, including a Rafah school where 10 people were killed on Sunday in what Gaza officials said was an Israeli air strike.

Israel said it was investigating the incident and that it may have been linked to an attempt by the military to kill Islamic Jihad gunmen, as they drove nearby.

International outcry crested against the Israelis. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described the attack as a "moral outrage and a criminal act" and called for those responsible for the "gross violation of international humanitarian law" to be held accountable.

The United States said it was "appalled" by

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