GAZA CITY: Fighting resumed in the Gaza neighborhood of Shejaya Sunday less than an hour after a "humanitarian truce" was agreed to allow the evacuation of wounded from the area.
Israel's military said its forces were shot at shortly after the two-hour truce, facilitated by the Red Cross, had begun at 1:30 pm (1030 GMT), and that it had resumed combat operations. Hamas had no immediate comment on Israeli allegations it had breached the ceasefire.
Israel had agreed to a two-hour humanitarian truce in the neighborhood in the Gaza Strip hit hard by Israeli shelling, an Israeli military spokesman said.
The ceasefire, requested by the International Committee of the Red Cross, was to last from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm (1030-1230 GMT) in the Shejaya district, where health officials said at least 50 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire.
The Islamist Hamas movement said earlier 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 Israel had subsequently agreed to a shortened truce.
Contacted by AFP, an ICRC spokesman earlier 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.