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Israel, Hamas pledge truce but keep fighting

Hamas said it would be willing to abide by a new 24-hour humanitarian truce ahead of the Eid al-Fitr holiday.

Smoke rises following an Israeli strike on Gaza, as seen from the Israel-Gaza Border. (Source: AP) Smoke rises following an Israeli strike on Gaza, as seen from the Israel-Gaza Border. (Source: 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 UN 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.

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.

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.


‘Blood, gore still haunt us’: Indian survivors recount horror of Gaza

For 35-year-old Lucknow native Abdul Rehman, his Ramzan fasts in Gaza were not broken by the call of the muezzin but with the deafening noise of bomb explosions.

“Bombs were going off in the distance around us all the time. Rockets were raining from the skies; hearing and seeing explosions became a daily affair. Even our ‘roza’ (fast) began and ended with blasts in the background,” Rehman told PTI.

His wife and only son Shah Rukh still cannot believe that he survived and returned home safely .

Rehman is among the four Indian tailors working in Gaza for the past two years who were recently evacuated unharmed with the help of the representative office of India (ROI) in Ramallah.

The horrors of living under the shadow of death still haunts the returnees. “It still sends shivers down my spine. I saw people being blown away by bombs, dismembered bodies strewn on the streets and people running helter-skelter to find shelter from the rockets that were dropping from the sky,” Rehman said. “We ourselves would run from place to place. For days, we didn’t eat anything but just cried in the corner of our room … The blood and gory sights still haunt us.”.

The four survivors left Gaza Strip last Sunday.

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