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Israel refuses humanitarian truce after Hamas accepts

July 27, 2014 2:09 A.M. (Updated: July 28, 2014 4:42 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israel rejected a proposed 24-hour humanitarian truce on Sunday, hours after Hamas said that all Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip had agreed to observe it.

"They are violating their own ceasefire," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the news network CNN, rejecting the proposal. "Under these circumstances, Israel will do what it must do to defend its people."

Additionally, Netanyahu told American media the only long-term ceasefire Israel was willing to consider was the one proposed by Egypt last week, which Hamas rejected because it has insisted that any long-standing ceasefire should involve the end of the eight-year old Israeli blockade.

The Hamas truce proposal came only hours after Israel announced a resumption of hostilities in Gaza following a day-long pause in the nineteen-day long assault.

"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 2:00 pm," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement.

Zuhri said the ceasefire would take place ahead of the three-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan and is expected to fall on Monday.

Israel did not immediately respond to the proposal, and both sides continued attacks well past 2:00.

Earlier, Hamas had rejected an Israeli proposal to extend the 12-hour ceasefire that ended at 8:00 p.m Saturday, on the basis that the ceasefire allowed Israel to continue its tunnel operation.

Israel first extended the ceasefire until midnight, and then another 24 hours until midnight on Sunday.

Militant groups in Gaza held fire during the agreed-upon humanitarian window, but began firing rockets minutes after it officially expired at 8:00 p.m on Saturday.

Israeli forces responded by shelling areas in the southern and central Gaza Strip, in addition to killing a man in Deir al-Balah, a Ma'an reporter in Gaza said.

Early Sunday, Israel announced that it had decided to resume attacks on Gaza given factions' rejection of the ceasefire extension.

In renewed attacks on the Strip, Israeli forces killed at least nine Palestinians, bringing the death toll up to 1,032, a Palestinian health ministry spokesman said.

More than 6,000 Palestinians have been injured.

Some 80 percent of those killed by Israeli attacks in Gaza are civilians, according to rights groups.

The UN agency for children says that 192 Palestinian children have been killed during the latest conflict so far.

AFP staff contributed to this report.
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