Israel extends Gaza humanitarian truce after rocky start

IDF: Hamas fired on troops during ceasefire it requested; Red Cross faciliated truce after hours of harsh shelling by IDF in Gaza City; Gazans say hundreds flee neighborhoods under fire; Hamas stopping foreign journalists from leaving Gaza.

Israel agreed Sunday to extend a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza City until 5:30 pm, after Hamas fighters endangered the calm it requested by firing on IDF troops shortly after it began.



The IDF said its troops came under fire in the neighborhood of Saja'iyya less than an hour after the 1:30 pm start of the truce, which was facilitated by the Red Cross, and that it had resumed combat operations. Hamas had no immediate comment on Israeli claims it had breached the ceasefire.


The IDF agreed to the ceasefire in the neighborhood of eastern Gaza City after Hamas asked Israel for the lull in hostilities at around noon Sunday to rescue the wounded and retrieve the dead. 


Ynet defense analyst Ron Ben-Yishai notes that Israel feared that ceasefire would be exploited for a kidnapping or for Hamas to prepare other tactics. The heavy artillery fire on Saja'iyya and the air force sorties were intended to isolate the area of operations.


The IDF also announced it deployed a field hospital in the Erez Crossing to treat Palestinians wounded in the fighting. The announcement said the hospital would begin operating starting at 8 pm.


Foreign journalists have been trying to leave the Strip through the Erez Crossing but they were prevented from doing so by Hamas.


In the last few hours, the Palestinians have released harsh images of the dead and wounded, including children, who were killed overnight Saturday and Sunday morning in a massive IDF attack in the area.


Hamas is seeking to rile up the international community, and the Arab world in particular, including those who can pressure Israel to end the operation. The movement called the IDF action overnight a war crime.


"The massacre of civilians in Saja'iyya is a war crime that will not break the will of our people. The resistance will not allow the enemy to trample over the soil of Gaza," said a statement by the group.


Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri accused Israel of trying to compensate for its failure in the campaign against the group's military wing by taking its revenge out on the civilian population.


Overnight, the Palestinians reported the most intensive IDF attack in Gaza since Operation Protective Edge began, in neighborhoods in the east of Gaza City center. Official Gaza sources said that hundreds of residents of these neighborhoods had fled westward and were trying to find shelter at Shifa Hospital in the city. Unofficial reports indicate that thousands of people have fled the neighborhoods.


Among the dead is Osama Al-Haya, son of Hamas leader Khalil al-Haya. According to reports, the IDF bombed the house in which he was staying, and his wife and son were also killed. Medical officials in Gaza have accused Israel of preventing ambulances from reaching the site of the incident, despite a request made via the Red Cross.


פרסום ראשון: 07.20.14, 12:24
 new comment
This will delete your current comment