Smoke rises after an air strike in eastern Gaza City, 27 July 2014. According media reports, Israel said it was resuming military operations in the Gaza Strip after Hamas rejected a ceasefire extension and launched rocket attacks. According to latest reports, Hamas has declared a 24-hour humanitarian truce.
Smoke rises after an air strike in eastern Gaza City, 27 July 2014. According media reports, Israel said it was resuming military operations in the Gaza Strip after Hamas rejected a ceasefire extension and launched rocket attacks. According to latest reports, Hamas has declared a 24-hour humanitarian truce. EPA/MOHAMMED SABER

Second ceasefire called in Israeli invasion of Gaza Strip

MILITANTS in Gaza have agreed to hold a further 24-hour ceasefire to mark the anticipated start of the Muslim holiday Eid, just hours after the breakdown of an earlier truce.

The Israeli military, which resumed fighting this morning because of what it said was "Hamas's incessant rocket fire" over the previous truce period, is yet to confirm whether or not it will accept a new pause in the conflict.

A Hamas spokesperson said it would stop fighting from 2pm (12pm BST) on Sunday. The three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday, capping the holy month of Ramadan, was expected to begin on Monday or Tuesday depending on the sighting of the new moon.

Sami Abu Zuhri said the group was offering a humanitarian truce "in response to UN intervention and considering the situation of our people and the occasion of Eid".

Earlier, Hamas seemed to have rejected Israel's own ceasefire offer and continued firing rockets, leading Israel to resume its military offensive.

This afternoon Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner, a spokesperson for the Israeli army, did not say if Israel would hold its fire during the time requested by Hamas, but said troops would continue demolishing Hamas military tunnels.

Even before the military announced that it had given up on the earlier extended truce this morning, booming explosions across Gaza sent thick black smoke rising into the sky.

A statement came later, saying: "Following Hamas' incessant rocket fire throughout the humanitarian window, which was agreed upon for the welfare of the civilian population in Gaza, the (army) will now resume its aerial, naval and ground activity in the Gaza Strip."

Palestinian witnesses said that the resumption of heavy shelling east of Gaza City saw at least three deaths across separate strikes.

The 20-day Israeli operation had already seen more than 1,050 Palestinians killed, the majority civilians, while 43 soldiers and three civilians have died on the Israeli side.

Gaza Strip overlay shows where 1.86 million Palestinians live

Overlays created using MAPfrappe

Mr Netanyahu was due to convene his cabinet later on Sunday to decide how to move forward, and at least one senior minister said Israel must step up its offensive.

"After what we saw this morning, it is clear we need to resume fighting with even greater force," Communications Minister Gilad Erdan told Army Radio.

Despite raised hopes towards the end of last week, there appeared to have been little progress from diplomats' international efforts to secure an end to the conflict.

John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, flew back to Washington overnight after meeting in Paris with foreign ministers of France, Italy, Britain, Germany, Turkey and Qatar.

During the lull in fighting inside Gaza on Saturday, residents flooded into the streets to discover scenes of massive destruction in some areas, including Beit Hanoun in the north and Shujaiya in the east.

Israel hopes that the images of widespread desolation that have since emerged will persuade Gazans to put pressure on Hamas to stop the fighting for fear of yet more devastation.

Israeli artillery fires towards Gaza, near the Israel and Gaza border in the morning of Sunday, July 27, 2014. Hamas on Sunday agreed to observe a 24-hour truce in Gaza after initially rejecting a similar Israeli offer, as fighting resumed and the two sides wrangled over the terms of a lull that international diplomats had hoped could be expanded into a more sustainable truce.
Israeli artillery fires towards Gaza, near the Israel and Gaza border in the morning of Sunday, July 27, 2014. Hamas on Sunday agreed to observe a 24-hour truce in Gaza after initially rejecting a similar Israeli offer, as fighting resumed and the two sides wrangled over the terms of a lull that international diplomats had hoped could be expanded into a more sustainable truce. AP Photo - Tsafrir Abayov


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