Israel declares seven hour "humanitarian" truce after the killing of 10 people in a Gaza school
Jerusalem (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Israel has announced a unilateral ceasefire today for seven hours, after heavy criticism following an attack on a UN school that killed 10 (see photo).
The Israeli army has made it clear that the "humanitarian window" will be applied from 10 am to 5 pm today in almost all of the Gaza Strip, except Rafah "where there are still clashes and where there is an Israeli military presence." The army has also stated that it will "respond to any attempt to exploit the window" to attack civilians or military personnel and said that the inhabitants of Abasan al Kabira and Abasan al Saghira, near Khan Younes, can return home.
A Hamas spokesman considered the unilateral truce "an attempt to divert attention from the Israeli massacres".
Yesterday an air raid killed 10 Palestinians near a UN school, used as a shelter for the displaced. The Israeli army claims to have killed three members of Islamic Jihad who were traveling on a motorcycle "in the vicinity" of the UN building in Rafah. The school was sheltering 3000 of the more than 250 000 displaced Palestinians. Israel accuses the Islamic militants of using the UN facilities and civilian homes to hide weapons. But several times the school in question had denounced and rid the presence of ammunition.
The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called the military action against the school "a moral outrage and a criminal act". Israel was also criticized by France, Britain and the United States.
Meanwhile, raids on Gaza this morning killed another 11 people, including a commander of Islamic Jihad. The death toll since the beginning of operation "Border protection", is 1820 Palestinians dead. Of these, at least 400 are children. The Israeli victims include three civilians, one of whom is a Thai migrant. The majority of the victims, 64, are soldiers.
Meanwhile, diplomatic efforts continue without much success. A Palestinian delegation met with Egyptian and U.S representatives in Cairo, but Israel has decided not to send any representative to the talks. The Palestinians demand a cease-fire, the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza, the end of the blockade and the opening of all border crossings.
Two days ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the operation in Gaza will continue until all underground tunnels are completely destroyed and up to ensure tranquility for its citizens living near the border. He has advised the international community to link the reconstruction of Gaza to a total demilitarization of the territory.
In recent weeks 2560 rockets launched from Gaza have hit Israeli soil; 556 were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile shield.
The Israeli army has made 4 thousand assaults reducing at least 10 thousand houses to rubble as well as schools, medical centers, mosques, parks, a power plant, waterworks and sewers.