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Gaza war rages despite Hamas, Israel truce pledges



By IBRAHIM BARZAK and ARON HELLER

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - Israel and Hamas launched new attacks Sunday in the raging Gaza war, despite each side offering different truces to temporarily halt nearly three weeks of fighting ahead of a major Muslim holiday.

After initially rejecting an Israeli offer Saturday for a 24-hour truce, Hamas said Sunday it agreed to hold fire ahead of the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. But as Israel's Cabinet met to discuss the offer and the ongoing war, rockets rained down on southern Israel and Israeli strikes could be heard in Gaza.

Each side blamed the other for scuttling the efforts.

Hamas said that "due to the lack of commitment" by Israel, it resumed its fire. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Hamas showed it could not be trusted after it violated other cease-fire efforts.

"Israel is not obliged and is not going to let a terrorist organization decide when it's convenient to fire at our cities, at our people, and when it's not," Netanyahu told "Fox News Sunday."

International diplomats had hoped a temporary lull could be expanded into a more sustainable truce to end the bloodshed and U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon urged the sides on Sunday to accept a 24-hour break in fighting.

The 20-day war has killed more than 1,030 Palestinians, mainly civilians, according to Palestinian health officials. Israel has lost 43 soldiers, while two Israeli civilians and a Thai worker in Israel were killed by rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza.

The Palestinian death toll was revised Sunday and an earlier figure dropped by 30 deaths, Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra said.

Israel says it launched the war on Hamas July 8 to halt relentless rocket fire. It expanded its assault over a week later, sending ground troops into the Gaza Strip to demolish Hamas' wide network of tunnels, which Israel sees as a strategic threat.

Each side remains far apart on terms for a final cease-fire. Hamas has demanded that a crippling Israeli and Egyptian blockade of Gaza be lifted and Israel has asked that Gaza be demilitarized.

Following Hamas' call for a break in fighting, an Israeli airstrike killed one person in Gaza when it hit a vehicle carrying municipal workers on their way to fix water pipes, the Palestinian Red Crescent said.

Police said Israeli tanks resumed firing shells on densely populated areas south of Gaza City. One shell hit an apartment building and several shells struck a building at Tal Al Hawa. Navy boats also resumed firing on the coastal side of Gaza, police said. The Israeli military did not immediately confirm that it resumed strikes.

Families in Gaza ordinarily would be busy now with preparations for the three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday, with children getting new clothes, shoes and haircuts, and families visiting each other.

In the outdoor market of the Jebaliya refugee camp, vendors set up stands with clothes and shoes, but said business was slow. Hamed Abul Atta, 22, a shoe salesman, said he hadn't made a single sale in the first three hours after opening.

Abul Atta said he and his family were staying with relatives after fleeing the Shijaiyah district of Gaza City, which has seen heavy fighting. He said a cousin and three other relatives were among dozens of people killed there last week.

"We can't feel any joy right now," he said when asked if he would mark the holiday.

Also after Hamas' call for a cease-fire, a rocket fired from Gaza lightly wounded one person in Israel, police said. Sirens wailed in a number of southern Israeli towns.

The Israeli military said earlier it would "resume its aerial, naval and ground activity in the Gaza Strip" after rockets continued to hit Israel. It said more than 50 rockets had been fired since midnight. The military also released a video showing a rocket being fired from what it identified as a Gaza school.

A 12-hour lull Saturday - agreed to by both sides following intense U.S. and United Nations mediation efforts - saw Palestinians return to neighborhoods reduced to rubble and allowed medics to collect close to 150 bodies, Palestinian health official Ashraf al-Kidra said.

The Israeli military says it is doing its utmost to prevent civilian casualties, including by sending evacuation warnings to residents in targeted areas, and blames Hamas for putting civilians in harm's way.

More than 160,000 displaced Palestinians have sought shelter at dozens of U.N. schools, an eight-fold increase since the start of Israel's ground operation more than a week ago, the U.N. said.

Hamas and other militants in Gaza have fired more than 2,400 rockets at Israel since hostilities began on July 8, many deep into the Israeli heartland and toward most of the country's major cities.

Israeli airstrikes have destroyed hundreds of homes, including close to 500 in direct hits, according to Palestinian rights groups. Entire Gaza neighborhoods near the border have been reduced to rubble.

Before the announcement of the holiday cease-fire, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri had said any truce must include a withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, and that tens of thousands of displaced people must be allowed to return to their homes.

Israel's acceptance of the cease-fire extension was premised on its soldiers remaining in Gaza to destroy the more than 30 tunnels the military says it has found. Hamas has said it will not halt fire until it wins guarantees that the border blockade, tightened by Israel and Egypt after it seized the territory in 2007, will be lifted.

Any new border arrangements for Gaza would likely give a role to Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who reached a power-sharing deal earlier this year with Hamas that was harshly condemned by Israel. Egypt wants forces loyal to Abbas to be posted on the Gaza side of the border before considering opening its Rafah crossing.

Israeli police meanwhile said security forces prevented a major attack when they stopped a suspicious vehicle in the West Bank and discovered a large explosive inside. Police said the suspect was a Palestinian from the West Bank city of Ramallah in his 30s.

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jbroskoski3 July 27 2014 at 1:19 PM

Hamas is a terrorist organization, Israel is simply defending its people.

Flag Reply +100 rate up
8 replies
janice blodgett July 27 2014 at 1:22 PM

Who resumed fire first....Hamas. Under the group's charter, Hamas is committed to the destruction of Israel and nothing else stands in the way. Palestinians freely elected these Hamas terrorist thugs and now want the most ignorant of the rest of the world to feel sorry for them and angry at the Jews.

Flag Reply +86 rate up
5 replies
juststeve35 July 27 2014 at 1:54 PM

In math, it is important to drill down to the lowest common denominators to get to the root of an issue.

In the ME, it is as simple as this:

Islam seeks to expand and control all infidels... To subjugate and eliminate in pursuit of the Caliphate.

Judaism seeks peaceful coexistence and encourages freedom of thought, speech and religion.

What?

You disagree??

Educate yourself fool!

There is only ONE place in the ME where muslim, jew and christian enjoy complete and total freedom of religion: Israel.

The one place in all of the ME that highest percentage of Arabs seek to emigrate to? Israel.

Root cause is found when you break something down to it's lowest common denominator.

Israel seeks and honors peace agreements with all it's neighbors.

The residents of Gaza won't even honor a ceasefire that can ONLY BENEFIT THEIR CITIZENRY!

Flag Reply +69 rate up
9 replies
its.howdy.doody.time July 27 2014 at 1:50 PM

Thank God
For the 'Iron Dome' defense system protecting Israel citizens since
Hamas has dropped over 25,000 bombs on them..!
How many dead in Israel would there be without that shield..?

Flag Reply +58 rate up
8 replies
kitharris1 July 27 2014 at 1:31 PM

the UN is going to handle this! hahahaha what a useless organization it is. they all vote against america and israel. stop funding the UN. we could use the money on securing our own border.

Flag Reply +55 rate up
6 replies
lets.play.wheres.waldo.obama July 27 2014 at 2:06 PM

Liberals remind me of Hamas.
Constantly causing damage
then putting the blame on others..!

Flag Reply +50 rate up
10 replies
snasim July 27 2014 at 2:35 PM

5 cease fire proposals, every one of them broken by Hamas, then they come and propose their own cease fire, and they break their own cease fire proposal. These people are freaking animals, they don’t want peace they never have wanted peace, Hams needs to be exterminated. It is simply outrageous how the media is spinning this conflict and using the palestinian people like to Hams is as a propaganda tool. Continue to hide behind children as shields while firing at Israel, wow..these people redefine the word ..coward.

Flag Reply +37 rate up
2 replies
cactusj8 snasim July 27 2014 at 3:39 PM

The magic number 5, like when liberal Al Gore demanded 5 recounts and lost them all.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
wclark3350 cactusj8 July 27 2014 at 4:57 PM

Nothing like wandering off the subject. You must be a very frustrating person to have a conversation with.

Flag 0 rate up
cmerr6240 snasim July 27 2014 at 5:23 PM

Why is the lame stream medio spinning it. I haven't a clue. Mayber the freaking Muslims have control over the Media. That is the way I would do it if I was one of them. Just Saying!

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Tin Manne July 27 2014 at 1:24 PM

Hamas does not control all of the fighters on its side of the border. There are too many splinter groups with their own agendas. The One Main Agenda is to kill and destroy Israel.

Flag Reply +29 rate up
5 replies
coopdabomb July 27 2014 at 1:30 PM

Don't forget to have some fun with a quarn for the muslim holiday. They make great targets.

Flag Reply +17 rate up
5 replies
redheadfemfite July 27 2014 at 3:18 PM

Obama has given Hamas millions and millions of dollars in aid. There hould be an investigation into how much of the money was diverted to buying rockets to attack Israel's cities. The bottom line is that Hamas fired rockets for years without Israel shooting back. Obama never once condemned Hamas terrorism. Instead he gave general statements that violence is not the solution - always followed by a demand that Israel concede whatever Hamas wanted that day.

Flag Reply +11 rate up
1 reply
carpenter1 redheadfemfite July 27 2014 at 3:32 PM

America has given BILLIONS to israel for decades and never stops them from attacking their neighbors and stealing Palistinian land!!!!

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
riverboy19 carpenter1 July 27 2014 at 3:50 PM

thank you.

Flag 0 rate up
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