On Saturday Israel agreed on 12-hour humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza and then extended it for 24 hours. However, minutes after the initial truce went out, a new barrage of rockets hit southern and central Israel.
Palestinian militant group Hamas has announced a 24-hour ceasefire after Israel ended an earlier truce amid continuing rocket fire from Gaza. According to BBC, Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, said the ceasefire would start from 14:00 local time (11:00 GMT). Some 1,060 Palestinians and 46 Israelis have died in recent hostilities. Most of those killed in Gaza are civilians, Palestinian health officials say, while 43 soldiers and three civilians have died on the Israeli side.
A spokesman for the Israel military said the announcement was “an opportunity perhaps”. “In response to UN intervention and considering the situation of our people and the occasion of Eid, it has been agreed among resistance factions to endorse a 24-hour humanitarian calm, starting from 2 pm on Sunday,” Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas spokesman said in a statement, as quoted by Russia Today. Eid al-Fitr, also called Feast of Breaking the Fast, is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of Ramadan. It starts on Tuesday. On Saturday, Israel accepted a UN request for a 24-hour ceasefire until the end of Sunday, although it said ground forces would continue to destroy tunnels used by Hamas during the pause.
The Israeli ceasefire followed a 12-hour truce, observed by both sides on Saturday, which enabled Gaza residents to gather supplies and retrieve bodies buried under the rubble.
However, the Israeli military announced on Sunday morning it had decided to resume its air, ground and naval raids on Gaza in response to “incessant rocket fire” from Hamas.
The militant group had initially rejected the Israeli offer, saying it would only halt rocket attacks once Israeli troops left Gaza and the displaced were allowed to return home. “No humanitarian ceasefire is valid without Israeli tanks withdrawing from the Gaza Strip and without residents being able to return to their homes and ambulances carrying bodies being able to freely move around in Gaza,” Hamas spokesman said.
Correspondents in Gaza said loud explosions could be heard in several districts as Israeli forces resumed their air strikes. Palestinian eyewitnesses reported heavy shelling to the east of Gaza City.
Despite the ceasefire on Saturday morning, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) urged the Palestinians, who earlier left their homes in Gaza, to “refrain from returning” to their homes, saying that “the IDF shall respond if terrorists choose to exploit this time to attack IDF personnel or fire at Israeli civilians.” The IDF also urged the civilian population of Gaza not to approach combat zones. However, thousands of Palestinians ignored the warnings and returned to their Gaza homes to find scores of houses demolished and wreckage blocking the roads.
Eight Palestinians have died in Sunday’s attacks, according to Gazan health officials. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) earlier said at least 20 rockets had been launched toward Israel since Saturday night, despite the truce.
It added that a soldier was killed by mortar shell fired from Gaza early on Sunday morning.
Israel launched its military offensive on 8 July with the declared objective of stopping Hamas firing rockets from Gaza into Israel. On 18 July, it extended operations with a ground offensive, saying it was necessary to destroy tunnels dug by militants to infiltrate Israel.