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Israeli strike kills 8-year-old girl despite truce

Aug. 4, 2014 10:57 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 4, 2014 8:42 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces targeted a home in Gaza City early Monday, killing a young girl and injuring dozens of Palestinians just minutes after a humanitarian ceasefire came into effect, health officials said.

Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said an airstrike hit the home of the al-Bakri family in al-Shati camp, killing eight-year-old Aseel Muhammad al-Bakri and leaving 30 people injured.

The wounded, among them children, were taken to al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.

Witnesses and several AFP correspondents reported hearing the whistle of a missile fired from an F16 warplane before it crashed into a house wedged between two tall buildings inside the camp.

An AFP correspondent said the strike hit at 10:06 a.m., six minutes into the lull.

With only a narrow alley leading to the house, it was not possible to get rescue equipment to the scene, with a long line of people passing out chunks of rubble by hand, an AFP correspondent said.

The strike cause the house to pancake, leaving only a very narrow gap for rescuers to get inside, some of whom were bloodying themselves in the effort, he said.

From within, they managed to pull the body of a young girl wearing pajamas whose spine appeared to be broken in several places, with rescuers struggling to get her onto a stretcher, he said.

Less than an hour later, Israeli forces shelled a house in al-Nuseirat camp in the central Gaza Strip, causing injuries, a Ma'an reporter said.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said the last airstrike took place "at approximately 10:00 am." She said the target of the strike was "operatives."

All other attacks after 10:00 a.m. came in response to rocket fire or militant ground attacks, the spokeswoman said.

Israel unilaterally announced a humanitarian ceasefire from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. on Monday. The ceasefire was to apply across the Gaza Strip, excluding areas east of Rafah.

But Hamas officials told Palestinians in Gaza to be wary of the truce.

"The unilateral ceasefire announced by Israel is an attempt to divert the attention from Israeli massacres," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said, calling on Palestinians to proceed with caution.

The Hamas movement "doesn't trust such a ceasefire," Abu Zuhri said.

According to the Ministry of Health, the Israeli offensive on Gaza has left over 1,822 Palestinians dead, including 398 children. Some 9,370 Palestinians have been injured, 2,744 of them children.

Approximately 373,000 children are in need of psychological support as a result of the trauma of the war, according to UN figures.

Over a quarter of Palestinians in Gaza have been forced to leave their homes throughout the assault.

AFP contributed to this report.
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