Gaza death toll passes 400: health ministry
Israel, Hamas agree to 2-hour truce in Gaza’s Shejaiya
GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories: The death toll in Gaza passed 400 on Sunday as Israel pressed its biggest offensive in the war-torn enclave in five years, Palestinian health officials said.
“410 people have been killed since the war started and more than 3,020 people have been injured, most of them civilians,” deputy health minister Yussef Abu Rish told reporters at Shifa hospital in Gaza City.
Sources on both sides earlier said Israel and Hamas had agreed to observe an immediate two-hour humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza’s Shejaiya neighbourhood, halting a blistering bombing campaign in the area.
Hamas also said its militants would abide by the truce, which both sides said was brokered by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
“There is going to be a humanitarian window between 1:30 and 3:30 (1030 and 1230 GMT) in Shejaiya,” an army spokeswoman said.
“The population is urged to evacuate within this timeframe to areas west of Shejaiya,” the army said on its official Twitter page.
“Any attempt to exploit this lull will be answered,” it said.
Hamas said it had agreed to the Red Cross proposal although it spoke of a three-hour lull.
“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.
An ICRC spokesman refused to confirm or deny it had made the proposal, saying only: “We have been making every effort to ensure ways to evacuate the dead and the wounded.”
The move came after Israel pounded Shejaiya, which lies between Gaza City and the border fence, leaving at least 40 people dead and nearly 400 wounded.
The intensity of the bombardment prevented emergency services from accessing the neighborhood and
dead bodies lay in the streets as thousands fled in terror, an AFP correspondent reported.