Deadly attack on Israeli bus amid lull in Gaza fighting

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 August, 2014, 9:32pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 August, 2014, 5:09am

An Israeli-declared temporary ceasefire and troop withdrawals slowed violence in the Gaza war yesterday, though an attack on an Israeli bus that killed one person in Jerusalem underscored the tensions still simmering in the region.

But with Hamas rocket fire tapering off over the previous 24 hours and Israel's ground operation winding down, violence in a war that officials say has killed more than 1,880 Palestinians and more than 60 Israelis appeared - for the moment - to be waning.

The lull was broken by the Jerusalem assault, which saw a man ram the front end of a construction vehicle into an Israeli bus. Police described the incident as a "terrorist attack", indicating Palestinian involvement.

Israel's Channel 10 TV showed cellphone video of what it said was the attack, with the yellow vehicle slamming its digging arm into the bus. A police spokesman said an officer in the area opened fire and killed the attacker. A pedestrian was also killed, said Jerusalem district police chief Yossi Piranti.

Shortly after the bus 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.

Before the attacks, a seven-hour Israeli ceasefire in Gaza went into effect. And while Israel continued hitting 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 on Sunday, was excluded from the truce, the military said.

Shortly after the ceasefire started, an Israeli strike hit a house at the Shati refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, killing three people and wounding at least 30, a Gaza health official said.

The Israeli military said it targeted an "operative threat" and rocket fire in the strike.

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.

Meanwhile, the British Foreign Office said it was "urgently investigating" claims that a British aid worker had been killed in Rafah.