Palestinians accuse Israel of breaking its own ceasefire with bomb attack
Palestinians accused Israel of breaking its own ceasefire yesterday by launching a bomb attack on a refugee camp in Gaza City that killed an eight-year-old girl and wounded 29 people.
Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qidra said the strike on a house in Shati camp took place after the truce was scheduled to start yesterday morning.
An Israeli military spokeswoman said she was checking the report.
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Israel announced a seven-hour ceasefire to facilitate the entry of humanitarian aid and allow some of the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians displaced by an almost four-week-old war to go home.
The announcement met with suspicion from Gaza's dominant Hamas Islamists and followed unusually strong censure from Washington at the apparent Israeli shelling on Sunday of a UN-run shelter that killed 10 people.
An Israeli defence official said the ceasefire, from 10am to 5pm, would apply everywhere apart from areas of the southern town of Rafah, where ground forces had intensified assaults after three soldiers died in a Hamas ambush there on Friday.
"If the truce is breached, the military will return fire during the declared duration of the truce," the official said. The official said east Rafah was the only urban area in which troops and tanks were still present, having been withdrawn or redeployed near Gaza's border with Israel over the weekend.
Hamas, whose envoys are in Egypt for truce negotiations that Israel has shunned in anger at Friday's ambush in Rafah, saw a possible ruse in the humanitarian truce announcement.
Hamas said attacking the house after the Israeli ceasefire began was evidence that the truce was for media consumption only. "We urge our people to continue to be cautious," the group's spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, said.
Israel is winding down its offensive in the absence of a mediated disengagement deal with Hamas. It said the army was close to completing the main objective of the ground assault - destruction of cross-border infiltration tunnels from Gaza - and was prepared to respond to Palestinian attacks.
In a predawn air strike Israel killed Danyal Mansour, a senior commander of Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian group fighting alongside Hamas.
Gaza officials said around 1,800 Palestinians had been killed, most of them civilians.
Many of those evacuated have taken shelter in UN-run facilities, including a Rafah school where 10 people were killed on Sunday in what Gaza officials said was an Israeli air strike.