Israel resumes Gaza airstrikes as its 7-hour ceasefire ends
WATCH ABOVE: The war in Gaza has now become the deadliest conflict since Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip in 2005. There were more attacks today despite a seven-hour ceasefire.
- Israel resumed attacks on Gaza after a seven-hour “humanitarian window”
- Israel withdraws most of its ground troops from the Gaza Strip on Sunday
- Israel’s military declares dead a soldier believed captured by Hamas
- Hamas and Israel are accusing each other of violating Friday’s truce
- Global News cannot independently confirm either death toll
- Scroll down to follow the latest updates in our live blog
GAZA, Gaza Strip – The Israeli military says it has resumed its attacks on the Gaza Strip, ending a self-declared, seven-hour ceasefire that was in effect for much of the day.
The Israeli military announced it resumed its attacks Monday night.
Israel said it declared the ceasefire to allow humanitarian supplies to enter Gaza. The seaside territory has been battered by a nearly monthlong war between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers.
Late Monday, Palestinian officials said an Israeli airstrike hit a target next to a desalination plant in Gaza, killing two people and wounding 16.
Palestinian officials say more than 1,880 people have been killed, most of them civilians. Israeli officials say 67 people, all but three civilians, have been killed on the Israeli side.
Earlier Monday, the seven-hour lull was broken by an assault in Jerusalem, which saw a man ram the front end of a construction excavator into an Israeli bus. Police described the incident as a “terrorist attack,” indicating Palestinian involvement.
The attack occurred on a main thoroughfare near Jerusalem’s light-rail line. The area is located near the unofficial line between Jewish West Jerusalem and east Jerusalem, the section of the city captured by Israel in 1967 and which is home to most of the city’s Arab population. Israeli media said the attacker came from an Arab area of the city.
Israel’s Channel 10 TV showed cellphone video of what it said was the attack, with the yellow excavator slamming its large shovel into the bus. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said a police officer in the area opened fire and killed the attacker. A pedestrian also was killed, said Jerusalem district police chief Yossi Piranti.
In the past, Palestinian attackers have gone on deadly rampages with bulldozers in Jerusalem traffic.
“Because of the quick reaction of the police an even graver incident was avoided,” Piranti said.
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Shortly after the excavator attack, Israeli media reported that a gunman on a motorcycle shot and seriously wounded an Israeli soldier. Police searched for the shooter in east Jerusalem.
“We believe there is a great likelihood this was a terrorist attack,” Piranti said.
Before the attacks, a seven-hour Israeli ceasefire in Gaza went into effect. And while Israel continued hitting at selected Palestinian targets, the level of the fighting was much lower than in previous days.
However, the Israeli military said the ceasefire would not apply to areas where troops were still operating and where they would respond to any attack. The southern strip town of Rafah, which saw heavy fighting Sunday, was excluded from the truce, the military said.
Shortly after the ceasefire started at 10 a.m. (0700 GMT), an Israeli strike hit a house at the Shati refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, killing three people and wounding at least 30, Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra said. The Israeli military said it targeted an “operative threat” and rocket fire in the strike “around 10 a.m.”
A separate Israeli strike killed Daniel Mansour, a commander in the Islamic Jihad group – a close ally of Gaza’s militant Palestinian Hamas rulers, the group said.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said his group remained skeptical about the announced Israeli truce.
“We do not trust such a calm and call on our people to take caution,” Zuhri said.
Meanwhile, the British Foreign Office said it was “urgently investigating” claims that a British aid worker had been killed in the Gaza town of Rafah. It declined to comment further.
Israel launched the military operation in Gaza on July 8 in response to weeks of heavy rocket fire. It has since carried out more than 4,600 airstrikes across the crowded seaside area. On July 17, it sent in ground forces in what it said was a mission to destroy the tunnels used by Hamas to carry out attacks inside Israel.
Hamas has fired more than 3,200 rockets into Israel during the war, with some intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome defence system and many of the crude missiles landing in open areas away from cities.
Since the war began, Palestinian health officials say at least 1,888 Palestinians have been killed. Most of the Palestinian casualties have been civilians, while all but three of the 64 Israelis killed have been in the military. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has come under increasing international pressure to halt the fighting because of the heavy civilian death toll in Gaza.
Overnight, Israeli forces carried out new airstrikes while Israeli tanks and navy gunboats fired dozens of artillery shells, targeting houses, agricultural plots and open areas, Gaza police said. They said Israeli jet fighters destroyed three mosques, nine houses, five seaside chalets and a warehouse for construction material.
The Gaza police said Israeli navy boats also approached the northern coast of the strip and soldiers tried to land in the area. On the ground, there were clashes in the southern town of Rafah and southeast of Gaza City, they said. The Israeli military had no immediate comment.
Sunday, an apparent Israeli strike killed 10 people at a UN school that had been converted into a shelter in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah.
The United States said it was “appalled” by the “disgraceful” shelling and State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki called on Israel to do “more to meet its own standards and avoid civilian casualties.”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the attack on the school a “moral outrage and a criminal act” and demanded a quick investigation.
The Israeli military said it had targeted three wanted militants on a motorcycle in the vicinity and was “reviewing the consequences of this strike.” Israel said that it attacked 63 sites on Sunday and that nearly 100 rockets and mortars were fired at Israel.
UN shelters in Gaza have been struck by fire seven times in the latest Israeli-Hamas round of fighting. UNRWA, the UN agency that assists Palestinian refugees, says Israel has been the source of fire in all instances. But it also has said it found caches of rockets in vacant UNRWA schools three times.
Israel accuses Hamas of using civilian areas for cover and says the Islamic militant group is responsible for the heavy death toll because it has been using civilians as “human shields.”
Enav reported from Jerusalem.
Associated Press writer Danica Kirka in London contributed to this report.