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Wednesday 29 March 2023 Dublin: 10°C
AP/Press Association Images Palestinians inspect the damage to an area around a fallen minaret of the Al-Sousi mosque, that was destroyed in an Israel strike at Shati refugee camp in northern Gaza today.
# Ceasefire
Israel announces limited 'humanitarian' ceasefire
IDF says the temporary cessation of violence “does not apply to areas where IDF soldiers are operating”.

THE ISRAELI MILITARY has declared a four-hour humanitarian ceasefire in parts of Gaza beginning at 3pm, but Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said it lacked any “value” because it excluded border areas from where Hamas wanted to evacuate the wounded.

The Israeli military said forces were still working to demolish tunnels in certain areas of the Strip. It said at least two rockets were fired at Israel following its declaration to partially hold fire.

The latest violence further dimmed hopes of a sustainable truce in the fighting, now in its fourth week. Today’s strike at the UN school in the Jebaliya refugee camp came on the heels of Israel’s heaviest air and artillery assault so far in the conflict.

Israel escalated its campaign yesterday, with airstrikes destroying key symbols of Hamas power, including the home of the top Hamas leader. Gaza’s only power plant was shut down after shells set its fuel tank on fire.

In pics: Israeli plane drops leaflets warning Gaza civilians >

Today, Israeli aircraft struck dozens of Gaza sites, including five mosques it said were being used by militants, while several other areas came under tank fire.

In Jebaliya, tank shells hit the UN school before dawn, said Adnan Abu Hasna, a spokesman for the UN Relief and Works Agency. The agency is sheltering more than 200,000 people displaced by the fighting at dozens of UN schools across the coastal strip.

Assad Sabah said he and his five children were huddling under desks in one of the classrooms because of the constant sound of tank fire throughout the night. ”We were scared to death,” he said. “After 4:30 a.m., tanks started firing more. Three explosions shook the school.”

“One classroom collapsed over the head of the people who were inside,” he said.

Mideast Israel Palestinians AP / Press Association Images A boy looks through the wall of a building damaged by an Israeli strike at the Abu Hussein UN school in the Jebaliya refugee camp. AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

In one classroom, the front wall was blown out, leaving debris and bloodied clothing. Another strike tore a large round hole in the ceiling of a second-floor classroom. The wall of the lavatories was also damaged.

The Israeli military said it fired back after its soldiers were targeted by mortar rounds launched from the vicinity of the school.

The mortars were fired from a distance of some 200 meters (yards) from the school, said an Israeli military official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

About two hours after the strike, hundreds of people still crowded the school courtyard, some dazed, others wailing.

Mideast Israel Palestinians AP / Press Association Images A Palestinian man grieves the death of his relative following an Israeli strike at a UN school in Jebaliya refugee camp, at the Kamal Adwan Hospital in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza today. AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

‘Our voice was not heard’

Chris Gunness, another spokesman for the UN Palestinian refugee agency, said the international community must step in.

“We appealed incessantly to the political echelons with power to reduce and end the violence. We warned. Our voice was not heard. It is time for others to honor their international law responsibilities to deal with consequences on civilians of their military decisions,” he said.

Ashraf al-Kidra, a Gaza health official, said at least 15 people were killed and about 90 wounded in the school strike. In all, 55 Palestinians were killed by airstrikes and tank shelling in different areas of Gaza on Wednesday, al-Kidra said.

In the southern town of Khan Younis, 10 members of one family died when an airstrike hit a relative’s home where they had sought refuge, al-Kidra said. After the strike, relatives climbed over piles of debris, surveying shattered windows and demolished walls.

In the Gaza City neighborhood of Tufah, shelling killed at last seven members of another family, including four children, said Ayman Sahabani, the head of the emergency room at Gaza’s Shifa Hospital.

The total number of Palestinians killed since the start of fighting July 8 rose to 1,284, al-Kidra said. More than 7,100 Palestinians have been wounded.

Israel has lost 53 soldiers and three civilians.

Israel says its Gaza operation is meant to stop Hamas rocket and mortar fire that has reached increasingly deeper into its territory and to destroy a sophisticated network of tunnels used for attacks inside Israel.

Mideast Israel Palestinians Tunnel Threat AP / Press Association Images File photo dated 13 October, 2013 showing an Israeli soldier standing at the exit of a tunnel discovered near the Israel Gaza border. AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Gaza militants have fired more than 2,600 rockets toward Israel over the past three weeks, according to the Israeli army. The Israeli military has said it is hitting targets linked to militants, such as rocket launching sites, weapon depots and Hamas tunnels.

Over the past 23 days, Israeli forces have hit 4,100 targets in Gaza, about one-third connected to the militants’ ability to launch rockets at Isreal, a statement said.

The military has not provided details on strikes in which multiple members of one family were killed. There have been several dozen such strikes, according to the Palestinian human rights group Al-Mezan.

The military says Hamas militants often launch rockets from crowded residential areas, thus endangering civilians. The army says it has also warned civilians by phone and leaflet to leave dangerous areas.

Israeli leaders have said that troops will not leave until all the Hamas tunnels have been demolished. The army said 32 tunnels have so far been located but did not say how many remain. Since yesterday morning, troops have demolished three more tunnels, a statement said.

Read: “You must listen”: Gaza teen tweets sound of bombs exploding >

Read: Is this what the inside of a Hamas tunnel looks like? >

Associated Foreign Press
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