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Middle East

Hamas calls for ceasefire as Israel resumes Gaza operations


Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-07-27

The Israeli military resumed operations in Gaza on Sunday despite an earlier announcement that it would unilaterally extend a humanitarian ceasefire. Hamas called for a new 24-hour truce after earlier rejecting a ceasefire extension.

"In response to the UN's intervention request to monitor the situation... it has been agreed between the resistance factions that a 24-hour humanitarian truce will start from 2pm (11am GMT)," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.

Hamas had earlier rejected an extension of the 12-hour ceasefire that took effect on Saturday.

Israel's security cabinet voted on Saturday to extend a ceasefire in Gaza by 24 hours until midnight on Sunday, despite the resumption of rocket fire from Gaza immediately after the 12-hour initial truce finished.

Israel said, however, that during the truce extension the army would continue to target Gaza's tunnel network and would respond to attacks by Palestinian militants.

Early on Sunday Israel announced it was restarting its Gaza operations following "incessant" rocket artillery from Hamas.

"Due to Hamas' incessant rocket fire during the humanitarian window, we are renewing our aerial, naval and ground activity in Gaza," the Israeli military announced on Twitter.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said: "Any humanitarian ceasefire that does not include the withdrawal of the occupation soldiers from Gaza borders and allowing citizens to return to their homes and evacuate casualties is unacceptable."

Hamas said it fired several rockets at Israel late Saturday after rejecting a first offer by Israel to extend the initial truce by four hours.

The movement's armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, said in two separate statements that it had fired two rockets at Tel Aviv in central Israel and five at Nachal Oz in the south.

Israeli police said warning sirens sounded across the country as rockets were fired as far as the Tel Aviv area, and the army said it had recorded three hits soon after the initial 12-hour truce ended. There were no reports of casualties.

The Israeli cabinet was due to meet again on Sunday discuss the next steps in the military operation in Gaza.

The extension of the ceasefire followed appeals from US Secretary of State John Kerry and foreign ministers from Europe and the Middle East, who urged both Israel and the Hamas movement to extend the fragile truce at peace talks in Paris on Saturday.

"We all call on parties to extend the humanitarian ceasefire," France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters after meeting Kerry and the foreign ministers of Britain, Germany, Italy, Qatar and Turkey, as well as an EU representative.

"We all want to obtain a lasting ceasefire as quickly as possible that addresses both Israeli requirements in terms of security and Palestinian requirements in terms of socio-economic development," he said.

Truce takes effect

After the 12-hour ceasefire went into effect at 5am (GMT) on Saturday, medics in Gaza began digging through the remains of hundreds of homes, and uncovered more than 100 bodies, medics said.

On the ground, Palestinian ambulances sped into Gaza neighbourhoods that have been too dangerous to enter for days.

The Daily Beast's Jesse Rosensfeld reports from Gaza

Nine hours into the truce, they had found the bodies of more than 100 people in the debris, pushing the death toll to 1,000 Palestinians killed since the conflict erupted on July 8.

Israel also announced the deaths of four more soldiers, raising its military toll to 41, along with two Israeli civilians and a Thai worker killed in Israel.

Palestinians ventured onto Gaza's streets after the truce began, some eager to check homes they had fled, others to stock up on supplies while it was safe to do so.

In many places they found astonishing devastation: buildings levelled, entire blocks of homes completely wiped out by Israeli bombardment.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP, Reuters)

Date created : 2014-07-27


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