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Israel vows to pursue campaign as truce ends

India TV News Desk 04 Aug 2014, 23:26:44 PM IST
India TV News Desk
Gaza/Jerusalem: Israel today resumed shelling on Gaza Strip as a seven-hour humanitarian ceasefire ended and vowed to press ahead with its offensive against Hamas until long-term calm is restored even as the death toll in the 28-day conflict neared 1,900.

Violence abated slightly earlier in the day after Israel declared the unilateral ceasefire and withdrew troops from parts of Hamas-ruled Gaza.

The Israeli army said it was redeploying troops within Gaza while other forces were pulling out.

Israeli nearly finished with its operation to destroy Hamas' network of tunnels, but “this operation will end only when quiet and security are restored to the citizens of Israel for a lengthy period.”

Netanyahu said the Israel Defence Forces “struck a very severe blow at Hamas and the other terrorist organisations. We have no intention of attacking the residents of Gaza.”

During the cease-fire, the IDF continued to operate in the areas around Rafah, but residents of other parts of Gaza flooded the streets to pick up supplies and check on their abandoned homes.

During the cease-fire, which Hamas did not agree to, at least three rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel. All three rockets landed in open areas.

Israeli strikes on Gaza early today killed 20 people, including an Islamic Jihad commander, raising the Palestinian death toll to over 1,880, according to Gaza health officials.

In Jerusalem, an Israeli was killed and five injured when a Palestinian rammed an earthmover into a bus, turning it over before the driver was shot dead by police.

Later, an Israeli soldier was shot and seriously wounded near a bus stop not far from the site of the earlier attack, with police combing the area for his attacker who fled.

The attack on the bus was a “terrorist attack,” and the driver was a Palestinian from east Jerusalem, police claimed.

Officials in Gaza accused Israel of violating its unilateral ceasefire minutes after it started by targeting a home in Gaza City, killing a young girl and injuring dozens of other Palestinians.

Palestinian Ministry of Health spokesman, Ashraf al-Qidra, said that 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.

Some witnesses told local media that they heard a whistle of a missile fired from an F-16 warplane before it crashed into the house between two tall buildings inside the camp.

Palestinian media reported that the attack happened barely six minutes after Israel declared its unilateral ceasefire.

Less than an hour later, Israeli forces shelled a house in al-Nuseirat camp in central Gaza, causing injuries, Palestinian Ma'an news agency reported.  An Israeli army spokesperson said that the army was looking into the incidents.

More than 9,370 people have been wounded in the 28-day conflict. The dead include 398 children, 207 women and 74 elderly people.

On Israeli side, 64 soldiers have been killed. Two civilians and a Thai worker in Israel have also died.  The UN's relief agency working in Gaza has said that approximately 373,000 children are in need of psychological support as a result of the trauma of the war.  Meanwhile, Palestinian groups, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, met Egyptian mediators in Cairo to discuss a longer truce, but Israel is not attending.  International efforts to negotiate a ceasefire have failed to yield any results.