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Sunday, Jul 20, 2014

World

Immediate humanitarian truce in Gaza for a couple of hours

AFP | Sunday, Jul 20, 2014

A Palestinian man holds a child while fleeing the Shujayeh neighbourhood during heavy Israeli shelling in Gaza City on July 20.

Update: Israel confirms 2-hour ceasefire in Gaza's Shejaiya: Army

JERUSALEM - Israel has agreed to observe an immediate two-hour humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza's Shejaiya neighbourhood, halting a blistering bombing campaign in the area, a military spokeswoman said on Sunday.

"There is going to be a humanitarian window between 1:30 and 3:30 (1030 and 1230 GMT) in Shejaiya," an army spokeswoman said.

Another military official said the move was in response to a request by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

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GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories - The Islamist Hamas movement said Sunday it had accepted a proposal for a three-hour humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza it said was made by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

"The ICRC contacted (us) and offered to broker a three-hour humanitarian truce to enable ambulances to evacuate the dead and wounded and Hamas accepted it," spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement.

"Hamas agreed on it but the occupation refused it," he claimed, although Israeli public radio reported that the Israeli government was studying the proposal.

Contacted by AFP, an ICRC spokesman refused to confirm or deny the report, saying only: "We have been making every effort to ensure ways to evacuate the dead and the wounded." The move came as Israel continued pounding several neighbourhoods east of Gaza City, leaving at least 40 people dead and nearly 400 wounded.

The intensity of the bombardment prevented emergency services from accessing the neighbourhoods and dead bodies lay in the streets as thousands fled in terror, an AFP correspondent reported.

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