July 16, 2014 4:35 pm
Updated: July 16, 2014 7:01 pm

Israel agrees to pause in Gaza airstrikes for humanitarian purposes


WATCH: There are hints Israel will use even more force against Hamas and militant factions in the Gaza Strip, possibly mounting a full-scale ground invasion in the coming days. Eric Sorensen reports.

Israel has agreed to temporarily halt its airstrikes on the Gaza Strip for humanitarian reasons, after more than a week of shelling in retaliation for rockets fired at Israeli cities.

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The pause in fire will take place between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. local time on Thursday, the BBC reported Israeli Defense Force (IDF) Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai saying.

Reuters reported a United Nations official made an appeal for the humanitarian ceasefire after nine days of Israeli air strikes that have left a reported 220 Palestinians dead, many of them civilians.

Israel recorded the first civilian death caused by rocket fire from the Gaza Strip on Wednesday.

READ MORE: Journalists witness Gaza beach attack that killed at least 4 children

On Wednesday, Israel agreed to an Egyptian-proposed ceasefire. But Hamas, the Palestinian faction in control of the Gaza Strip, rejected it and resumed firing rockets.

READ MORE: No truce: What does Hamas demand to agree to a ceasefire with Israel?

Turkey’s Anadolou Agency reported early Wednesday Hamas would hold fire during the Israel’s humanitarian pause.

Mordechai told BBC Gazans can use that break in airstikes as a time to stock up on supplies.

Israel warned it will retaliate “firmly and decisively” if Hamas or other militant groups launch attacks on Israel during that time.

The IDF, on its Twitter page, warned residents of Beit Lahyia, Shuja’iya and Zeitoun not to return to the their homes after the pause comes to an end, for their own safety.

The Israeli Air Force on Wednesday dropped fliers on cities in the Gaza Strip and sent civilians text messages, warning residents of those communities to evacuate their homes.

U.S. will use all diplomatic resources to secure ceasefire: Obama

President Barack Obama says the United States will use all of its diplomatic resources and relationships to secure a deal on a cease-fire to end violence between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Obama says the U.S. supports Egypt’s continued efforts to restore the 2012 cease-fire. He says the U.S. is working with its partners in the region to secure a cease-fire and will stay in close contact over the next 24 hours.

Obama says Israel has a right to defend itself against rocket attacks. But in remarks Wednesday at the White House, he’s also lamenting the deaths of civilians in Gaza. He’s stressing the need to protect civilians in Gaza and in Israel and to avoid further escalation.

With files from The Associated Press

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