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27 Jul, 2014 10:24

Hamas resumes shelling after agreeing to new 24-hour ceasefire

Hamas resumes shelling after agreeing to new 24-hour ceasefire

Fighting briefly subsided in Gaza on Sunday after Hamas agreed to a 24-hour humanitarian truce in the Strip. Israel's PM Benjamin Netanyahu, however, slammed the group for failing to accept its own ceasefire and continuing to fire.

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"In response to UN intervention and considering the situation of our people and the occasion of Eid, it has been agreed among resistance factions to endorse a 24-hour humanitarian calm, starting from 2 pm on Sunday," Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas spokesman said in a statement.

Eid al-Fitr, also called Feast of Breaking the Fast, is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of Ramadan. It starts on Tuesday.

Israel extends ceasefire for 24 hours, Gaza death toll surpasses 1,000

In the meantime, Israel rejected the proposal by the United nations and Hamas to humanitarian ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, the country's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told CNN.

"Hamas doesn't even accept its own ceasefire, it's continuing to fire at us as we speak," he said, adding that Israel "will take what ever action is necessary to protect our people."

The Iron Dome just intercepted 4 rockets over Beersheba. Hamas continues to fire at Israel from Gaza.

— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) July 27, 2014

Israel earlier resumed fighting in the Gaza Strip, saying that Hamas ignored a previous agreement.

"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," a statement from Israeli forces said.

Smoke rises during an Israeli offensive in the east of Gaza City July 27, 2014. (Reuters / Suhaib Salem)

According to Israel Defense Forces (IDF), since the Operation Protective edge began, they agreed to a ceasefire several times, but this was not picked up by Hamas.

Since starting the operation in Gaza, we held our fire 4 times. Hamas never stopped shooting rockets,” said IDF on twitter.

Since starting the operation in Gaza, we held our fire 4 times. Hamas never stopped shooting rockets. RETWEET. pic.twitter.com/sjMMTlHvmf

— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) July 26, 2014

On Saturday Israel agreed on 12-hour humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza and then extended it for 24 hours. However, minutes after the initial truce went out, a new barrage of rockets hit southern and central Israel. At least five landed in Israel and two others were intercepted by the Iron Dome, the military said.

Hamas at the point rejected the extension of truce.

"No humanitarian ceasefire is valid without Israeli tanks withdrawing from the Gaza Strip and without residents being able to return to their homes and ambulances carrying bodies being able to freely move around in Gaza," Hamas spokesman said.

An Israeli army tank moves near the border with the Gaza Strip July 27, 2014. (Reuters / Ronen Zvulun)

Despite the ceasefire on Saturday morning, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) urged the Palestinians, who earlier left their homes in Gaza, to “refrain from returning” to their homes, saying that “the IDF shall respond if terrorists choose to exploit this time to attack IDF personnel or fire at Israeli civilians.” The IDF also urged the civilian population of Gaza not to approach combat zones.

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However, thousands of Palestinians ignored the warnings and returned to their Gaza homes to find scores of houses demolished and wreckage blocking the roads.

Due to Hamas' incessant rocket fire during the humanitarian window, we are renewing our aerial, naval and ground activity in Gaza.

— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) July 27, 2014

After the announcement of the 24-hour ceasefire on Saturday, a barrage of rockets was fired from Hamas militants at Israel. At least five landed in Israel and two others were intercepted by the Iron Dome, the military said.

As the Operation Protective Edge enters its 20th day, the Gaza death toll reached at least 1,050 - mostly civilians.

Palestinian mourners carry the body of Mahmud Abu al-Hosna, whose body was retreived from the rubble the day before, during his funeral in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip on July 27, 2014. (AFP Photo / Mahmud Hams)

Israel lost three civilians killed in Israel by rocket and mortar attack. On Sunday morning an IDF soldier was killed by a mortar shell near the Gaza border. It brought the number of soldiers killed in the operation to 43. Earlier on Saturday two more IDF soldiers died in hospital.

Israel launched a major air campaign in Gaza on July 8 and later sent ground troops into Hamas-ruled territory. The IDF say that Operation Protective Edge is aimed at halting Palestinian rocket fire and destroying Hamas’s cross-border tunnels.