Israel and Hamas have agreed a long-term ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.
The truce, ending seven weeks of fighting that has left more than 2,200 people – mostly Palestinians – dead, was brokered by Egypt and began at 19:00 local time.
Hamas said the deal represented a “victory for the resistance”.
Israel is to ease its blockade of Gaza to allow in aid and building materials, Israeli officials said.
Indirect talks on more contentious issues, including Israel’s call for militant groups in Gaza to disarm, will begin in Cairo within a month.
The US gave the full backing to the deal, with State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki saying: “We strongly support the ceasefire announcement.”
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also welcomed the truce. But in a statement via his spokesman, Ban Ki-moon warned that “any peace effort that does not tackle the root causes of the crisis will do little more than set the stage for the next cycle of violence”.
The breakthrough came as both Israel and the Palestinians continued to trade fire.
Israel and Hamas have agreed a long-term ceasefire in the Gaza Strip
A last-minute volley of mortar shells from Gaza killed an Israeli civilian and wounded six others in Eshkol Regional Council.
Earlier on Tuesday, at least six Palestinians were killed in a series of Israeli air strikes in Gaza, Palestinian officials said.
Palestinian officials said Egypt’s cease fire proposal called for an indefinite end to hostilities, the immediate opening of Gaza’s crossings with Israel and Egypt, and an extension of the territory’s Mediterranean fishing zone.
A month later Israel and the Palestinian factions would discuss the construction of a seaport and airport in Gaza and the freeing of about 100 prisoners.
Israel and Egypt were also said to be demanding guarantees that weapons would not be smuggled into Gaza.
The announcement was greeted by celebratory gunfire on the streets of Gaza City.
However, sirens warning of rockets reportedly continued to sound in southern Israel.
A spokesman for Hamas, which controls Gaza, said: “We are here today to declare the victory of the resistance, the victory of Gaza, with the help of God, and the steadfastness of our people and the noble resistance.”
Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on July 8 with the stated aim of ending rocket fire. It was later expanded to include the destruction of tunnels used by militants for cross-border attacks.
At least 2,140 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in Gaza, according to the Palestinian health ministry.
The Israeli authorities say 64 Israeli soldiers have been killed, along with three Israeli civilians and a Thai national.
Early on Tuesday, Israeli jets bombed two high-rise buildings in Gaza City, containing flats and offices.
No-one was reported killed as residents managed to flee both buildings after the Israeli military warned them to leave.
Hamas, citing Palestinian casualties, has accused Israel of an “unprecedented act of revenge” against civilians.
However, Israeli military spokesman Lt Col Peter Lerner told the Associated Press the strikes were “a direct result of Hamas’ decision to situate their terrorist infrastructure within the civilian sphere, including schools, hospitals and high-rise buildings”.
A 72-hour ceasefire has come into effect between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza, after a day of intense diplomacy.
It is hoped the latest truce, which came into effect at 21:00 GMT, will help negotiators agree a longer peace.
Egypt brokered a similar truce last week, but fighting resumed after the three-day window ended.
About 2,000 people have died in the conflict, which began on July 8 when Israel launched an operation to deter militant attacks from Gaza.
Israeli media were reporting warning sirens for rocket attacks right up to the new ceasefire deadline at midnight local time. Israeli air strikes also continued through Sunday evening.
A 72-hour ceasefire has come into effect between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza, after a day of intense diplomacy
However, an hour into the ceasefire there were no reports of attacks from either side.
After tense talks that both sides had threatened to abandon, the surprise announcement of the truce came late on Sunday.
Izzat al-Reshiq, a Hamas negotiator in Cairo, told Reuters news agency: “In light of Israel’s acceptance of the truce and their return without pre-conditions, we will inform the Egyptian brothers of our positive response.”
In a statement, Egypt’s foreign ministry urged both sides to resume indirect negotiations and “work towards a comprehensive and lasting ceasefire agreement”.
Correspondents say Israel is likely to continue to push for Gaza to be demilitarized, and Hamas will continue to demand the blockade of Gaza to be lifted.
However, an unidentified Hamas negotiator said their demands were likely to be “more modest” this time.
Since the last 72-hour truce ended on Friday, there has been regular exchange of fire.
Israeli air strikes have killed at least 20 Palestinians. Two Israelis were injured by mortars.
On the Israeli side, where dozens of communities have been evacuated, residents will also be able to return home.
Israel has announced a seven-hour humanitarian ceasefire in parts of Gaza.
A senior Israeli military official said the truce would not apply to the town of Rafah and that Israeli troops would respond if they were attacked.
Earlier, UN chief Ban Ki-moon described an Israeli strike near a UN-run school in Gaza as “a moral outrage and a criminal act”.
Palestinian officials said at least 10 people died in the attack on Sunday.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) confirmed on Sunday that they had begun withdrawing some troops from Gaza, saying it was “extremely close” to completing its mission to destroy a network of tunnels.
Health officials in Gaza say 1,800 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed and more than 9,000 injured since the conflict began nearly four weeks ago.
Sixty-six Israelis have died, all but two of them soldiers. A Thai national working in Israel was also killed.
Israel has announced a seven-hour humanitarian ceasefire in parts of Gaza
In the outrage that followed Sunday’s attack on the UN school, Israel announced it would hold a “humanitarian window” in its Gaza offensive to allow hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians to return to their homes.
The ceasefire would not include Rafah because there was an “Israeli military presence” there and “clashes were still ongoing”, an IDF statement said.
It said the truce would last from 10:00 local time until 17:00.
The Israeli army warned that it would “respond to any attempt to exploit this window” by Islamist militants in Gaza.
Hamas responded to the truce with suspicion and its spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, accused the IDF of attempting to “divert the attention from Israeli massacres”.
Israeli air strikes on Gaza and Palestinian militant rocket fire launched at Israel continued on Monday morning ahead of the planned ceasefire.
The Islamic Jihad group said its commander in northern Gaza, Daniel Mansour, died when Israeli forces struck his home just before dawn.
More than a quarter of the 1.8 million residents in the Palestinian territory have been displaced.
Many of those who have fled their homes have taken refuge in UN shelters across Gaza, including the UN-run school in Rafah which was hit on Sunday.
The IDF said it had targeted three Islamist militants near the school.
Ban Ki-moon described the attack as “yet another gross violation of international humanitarian law”, adding that Israel had regularly been informed of the precise location of the school.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the US was appalled by the “disgraceful shelling”.
Israel said it was investigating the incident.
PM Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was “sorry for any attack that unintentionally hits civilians”, but accused Hamas of turning UN facilities into “terrorist hotspots”.
“Hamas has an interest in Gaza residents suffering, thinking that the world will blame Israel for their suffering,” Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement on Monday.
The IDF says 2,560 rockets and mortars fired from Gaza have landed in Israel since 8 July, with its Iron Dome defense system having intercepted another 556 rockets.
Hadar Goldin, the Israeli soldier reported missing in Gaza on Friday, is dead, Israel’s military says.
Hadar Goldin was believed to have been captured by militants during fighting, leading to the collapse of a ceasefire shortly after it had been declared.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it had determined that Lt. Hadar Goldin had died.
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has said the operation in Gaza will continue until it restores security to Israeli citizens.
AFP news agency quoted Palestinian emergency services as saying 12 Palestinians had been killed early on Sunday but this has not been independently confirmed.
Israeli media also reported fresh militant rocket attacks.
Hamas had denied it was holding the 23-year-old Hadar Goldin captive, saying it did not know the soldier’s whereabouts.
Lt. Hadar Goldin was believed to have been captured by Hamas militants during fighting
The military wing of the Islamist group said it had lost contact with some fighters in the area where Israel said the soldier had been seized.
It said it believed the fighters and possibly Hadar Goldin had been killed in an Israeli airstrike.
Israel’s defense minister and the chief military rabbi met the soldier’s family at their home in the town of Kfar Saba on Saturday night.
Hundreds of well-wishers had gathered outside their home and there was an outpouring of grief when the military’s announcement was made public.
Confirmation of Lt. Hadar Goldin’s death means 66 Israelis have now died in the fighting, all but two of them soldiers. A Thai worker in Israel also died.
Some 1,700 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed since the conflict began more than three weeks ago.
Earlier, PM Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue the Israeli offensive in Gaza until “we achieve our objective of restoring security to you, Israeli’s citizens”.
“Hamas again mistakenly believes that the people of Israel do not have the will and determination to fight them and Hamas again will learn the hard way that Israel will do whatever it must do to protect its people,” he said.
The Islamist group would pay an “intolerable price” for attacks on Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu added.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum dismissed Benjamin Netanyahu’s comments as “confused” and said the group would “continue to resist until we achieve our goals”.
Meanwhile, a UN spokesman in Gaza has warned that a “health disaster of widespread proportions is rapidly unfolding” there after three weeks of intense conflict.
Chris Gunness from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) says Gaza’s medical services are “on the verge of collapse”.
“At least half of all public health primary care clinics in Gaza are closed,” he said, adding that the medical facilities still functioning are overwhelmed.
Chris Gunness also warned that there was a serious risk of an outbreak of waterborne and communicable diseases because of a lack of adequate water and poor sanitation.
Israeli forces say one of its soldiers is believed captured, as a 72-hour truce with Hamas in Gaza collapsed just hours after it had begun.
The soldier, named as Hadar Goldin, 23, disappeared when Israeli forces trying to destroy a suspected militant tunnel were attacked, Israel’s military said.
Two soldiers died in firefight in southern Gaza Strip at 9:30 local time.
The Gaza health ministry said dozens were killed by Israeli shelling in the area shortly after the incident.
In 2006 Palestinian militants captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and held him for five years.
Israeli forces say one of its soldiers is believed captured, as a 72-hour truce with Hamas in Gaza collapsed just hours after it had begun
Gilad Shalit was released in November 2011 in exchange for 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.
Hamas has not confirmed or denied capturing a soldier.
Some 1,460 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have died in the latest conflict and 63 Israelis, mostly soldiers.
The ceasefire had been brokered by the US and UN to give civilians a reprieve from the violence, and had been seen as an unforeseen breakthrough after days of diplomatic deadlock.
Also on Friday, Palestinian and Israeli delegations arrived in Cairo, Egypt, with the hope of negotiating a longer-term cessation of hostilities, but Egyptian officials said the talks had now been postponed.
A senior Israeli official said Hamas had breached the ceasefire and Israel’s response would be “crushing”.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoun said: “The Israelis are the ones who breached the ceasefire, and the Palestinian resistance acted in a way that ensures its right of self-defense.”
Another Hamas official said the announcement of the soldier’s capture was “a justification for Israel retreating from the truth and a cover-up for massacres”.
Palestinian media reported that Hamas had called for a “day of anger” across the West Bank.
At least 17 Palestinians have been killed and 160 wounded in an Israeli strike that hit a fruit and vegetable market in Shujayea, near Gaza City, during a “humanitarian pause” unilaterally announced by Israel.
Hundreds of people were shopping in the market, a spokesman for the Gaza health ministry said.
Hamas, which controls Gaza, had rejected the truce as meaningless.
Meanwhile, Israel said three more of its soldiers had been killed in Gaza.
Palestinian doctors also said that another Israeli air strike after the partial humanitarian ceasefire was announced had killed seven people in Khan Younis.
More than 1,300 Palestinians and 58 Israelis have now died in Gaza Strip conflict
Earlier, the UN said Israel had attacked a UN-run school housing refugees in Gaza, despite warnings that civilians were there. Fifteen people were killed and dozens hurt.
The White House condemned the attack and said it was “extremely concerned” that Palestinians were not safe at shelters despite being told to evacuate their homes by Israel’s army.
More than 1,300 Palestinians and 58 Israelis have now died in the conflict. Most of the Palestinian deaths have been of civilians.
Fifty-six Israeli soldiers have been killed along with two civilians. A Thai worker in Israel has also died.
The Israeli military said that the three soldiers killed on Wednesday died in a booby-trapped building.
Correspondents say many people in Gaza were unaware the partial ceasefire had been called.
Witnesses at the scene of the market strike in Shejaiya spoke of smoke billowing over the site, with ambulances racing victims to hospital.
A journalist who worked for a local news agency was reported to have been killed.
One witness, Salim Qadoum, told Associated Press: “The area now is like a bloodbath, everyone is wounded or killed. People lost their limbs and were screaming for help. It’s a massacre.”
The Palestinian al-Aqsa satellite TV channel quoted Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum as saying that the market attack required “an earth-shattering response”.
The Israeli military had said the ceasefire would last between 15:00 and 19:00.
However, it had warned that the truce would only apply to areas where Israeli soldiers were not currently operating, and it told residents not to return to areas they had previously been asked to evacuate.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri had rejected the truce as meaningless.
“The lull which Israel announced is media exploitation and has no value because it excludes the volatile areas along the border, and we won’t be able to get the wounded out from those areas,” he said in a statement.
Sirens continued to sound in southern Israel after the ceasefire, to warn of militant rocket attacks.
Israel said more than 50 rockets were fired from Gaza on Wednesday.
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has warned of a “prolonged” military campaign in Gaza, as it saw one of its heaviest nights of shelling since the conflict began.
Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would continue to act until it had achieved its aim of destroying militant group Hamas’s network of underground tunnels.
Israel made 60 air strikes on targets in Gaza overnight including TV stations and the house of a key Hamas leader.
It said militants had launched three rockets at Israel.
At least 13 Palestinians are reported to have been killed in the overnight attacks, including six victims in one house in the Bureji refugee camp, while Israel’s army lost 10 soldiers in the past 24 hours.
Officials say more than 1,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed in the fighting since July 8. Israel says 53 of its soldiers and three civilians – two Israelis and a Thai worker, have been killed.
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has warned of a prolonged military campaign in Gaza
Early on Tuesday, Israeli aircraft fired at the unoccupied house of former Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh, while Hamas TV and radio stations were also hit.
Three rockets were fired from Gaza, with one rocket successfully intercepted and two hitting open spaces in central Israel, Israel’s military said.
At least 10 people – eight of them children – were killed in blasts in Gaza City on Monday afternoon, Palestinian health officials said. It is unclear if they were killed by an Israeli attack or a misfiring militant rocket.
Five Israeli soldiers were killed on Monday when militants infiltrated the border, while a mortar bomb killed four earlier and a tenth died in a clash in southern Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said.
Benjamin Netanyahu described Monday as a “painful day”.
“We will continue to act aggressively and responsibly until the mission is completed to protect our citizens, soldiers and children,” he said.
On Monday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon criticized both sides for firing into civilian areas, and called for an immediate, unconditional humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza during the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday.
His spokesman later added that Ban Ki-moon was concerned at reports that leaflets had been dropped by the IDF warning residents in the northern Gaza Strip to evacuate to Gaza City.
“If true, this would have a further devastating humanitarian impact on the beleaguered civilians of those areas of the Gaza strip, who have already undergone immense suffering in recent days,” his spokesman said.
Rocket fire and air strikes between the two sides increased after the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers in June, which Israel blamed on Hamas and which led to a crackdown on the group in the West Bank. Hamas denied being behind the killings.
The United Nations Security Council has called for an “immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire” in Gaza Strip.
An emergency session backed a statement calling for a truce over the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr “and beyond”.
Both the Palestinian and Israeli envoys to the UN criticized the statement, for different reasons.
Gaza had its quietest night in weeks after a weekend punctuated by brief truce initiatives offered by both Israel and Hamas.
More than 1,030 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 43 Israeli soldiers and two Israeli civilians have been killed. A Thai national in Israel has also died.
The UN Security Council has called for an immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza
The Gaza health ministry on Sunday revised the number of Palestinian dead down by 30 after some relatives found missing family members.
Israel’s military reported a new rocket attack on Monday morning, saying it had hit an open area in southern Israel. It fired back, in its first reported military action since late on Sunday evening.
The UN Security Council endorsed a statement from Rwanda, the current president of the council, calling for a “durable” truce based on an Egyptian initiative – under which a pause in hostilities would lead to substantive talks on the future of Gaza, including the opening of Gaza’s border crossings.
The statement also emphasized that “civilian and humanitarian facilities, including those of the UN, must be respected and protected”.
It further stressed the need for “immediate provision of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip”.
The Palestinian representative at the UN, Riyad Mansour, said the statement did not go far enough and that a formal resolution was needed demanding that Israel withdraw its forces from Gaza.
“They should have adopted a resolution a long time ago to condemn this aggression and to call for this aggression to be stopped immediately,” he said.
Speaking for Israel, Ron Prosor accused the Security Council statement of bias.
“Miraculously it doesn’t mention Hamas,” the Israeli envoy said.
“It doesn’t mention the firing of rockets. Those things are lacking in this statement.”
Opinion polls published at the weekend suggest there is still widespread support among Israelis for the military operation.
Israel has accepted a UN request for a 24-hour ceasefire in Gaza.
However, Israel has warned the army will act if the pause is breached by Palestinian militants.
A crisis cabinet meeting extended Saturday’s truce until midnight on Sunday.
The move comes despite Hamas militants firing rockets after they rejected an earlier attempt to prolong the truce.
Hamas said it would not accept a truce unless Israeli troops left Gaza and the displaced were allowed to return home.
Israel said that it would continue operations against tunnels used by Hamas during the truce period.
Israel has accepted a UN request for a 24-hour ceasefire in Gaza
Hamas has accused Israel of using previous ceasefires to prepare more attacks, and claimed that there had been truce violations during Saturday.
The Israeli military said a soldier was killed by a mortar shell fired from Gaza early on Sunday morning, bringing the death toll among its armed forces to 43. Two Israeli civilians and a Thai farm laborer working in Israel have also been killed in recent hostilities.
The health ministry in Gaza says 1,033 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed and about 5,900 wounded since Israel launched its Gaza offensive 19 days ago.
Rocket sirens continued to sound across Israeli cities into Sunday. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said some 20 rockets had been launched toward Israel since Saturday night.
The military said three mortars had been fired from Gaza and hit Israel in the Eshkol region shortly after 20:00 local time on Saturday.
Hamas’ armed wing, the Qassam Brigades, said they had fired a number of short- and longer-range missiles into Israel.
The original truce expired at 20:00 local time on Saturday. Gazans had been using the pause to recover bodies and gather supplies.
Gaza health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said that almost 150 bodies had been found in the rubble on Saturday.
After talks in Paris on Saturday, foreign ministers from the US, Turkey, Qatar and several European countries urged both sides to extend the truce.
Israeli cabinet minister Gilad Erdan told Reuters on Saturday that a definitive deal looked remote, with no representatives from Israel, Egypt or the Palestinian Authority attending the Paris talks.
Also on Saturday, pro-Palestinian demonstrations took place in several global capitals.
Around 5,000 people rallied in Paris in defiance of a ban by the French authorities – about 50 people were arrested during clashes with police. Thousands also took part in a protest in London against Israel’s military campaign.
Israel launched its military offensive with the declared objective of stopping Hamas firing rockets from Gaza into Israel.
It also began a ground offensive on July 18, saying it was necessary to destroy tunnels dug by militants to infiltrate Israel.
Calls for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas movement are intensifying as more than 800 people have been killed in Gaza in the 18-day conflict.
Secretary of State John Kerry has been in Cairo meeting Egypt’s foreign minister and the UN secretary general.
Five Palestinians were killed in the West Bank, while one Israeli soldier was killed in northern Gaza.
Activists called for a “day of rage” over the deaths of 800 Palestinians in Gaza. Israel has lost 36 people.
Calls for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas movement are intensifying as more than 800 people have been killed in Gaza
Most of the Palestinian deaths have been civilians, while 34 of Israel’s dead have been soldiers. One Thai worker was also killed by rocket fire in Israel.
Israel launched new air strikes on targets in Gaza on Friday, and said it had killed a senior member of militant group Islamic Jihad.
The Israeli military reported new rocket launches by militants inside the Gaza Strip, with several intercepted.
Israel launched its military offensive on 8 July with the declared objective of stopping Hamas firing rockets into Israel, extending its operation since then to destroy tunnels dug by militants to infiltrate its territory.
Hopes rose for at least a limited deal on Friday as it emerged that John Kerry, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and UN chief Ban Ki-moon were planning a news conference for later in the day.
John Kerry is expected to leave the region on Friday, whether or not a deal is agreed.
The plan is thought to include provision for a temporary pause in hostilities that could begin as soon as this weekend.
Israel wants to keep its military in Gaza and continue disabling Hamas tunnels.
Any plan must be approved both by Israel’s security cabinet and senior Hamas leaders, including Qatar-based Khaled Meshaal.
At least two Palestinians have been killed and 200 wounded in the West Bank during protests against Israel’s campaign in Gaza, officials say.
About 10,000 protesters marched from Ramallah towards East Jerusalem, where they were met by Israeli forces.
At least 15 people died and scores were injured when an UN-run shelter came under fire in Gaza on Thursday.
More than 800 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have died since the Israel-Hamas conflict began on July 8.
Palestinian leaders in the West Bank have called for a “day of anger” on Friday, one of the last days of Ramadan.
The protest at Qalandia, outside Ramallah, saw Israeli border police use “riot control measures” and live fire. Protesters also used live ammunition, Israel said.
At least two Palestinians have been killed and 200 wounded in the West Bank during protests against Israel’s campaign in Gaza
Large protests were also reported in Jerusalem on Thursday evening, after Israeli police prevented men under 50 from visiting the al-Aqsa mosque.
At least 20 protesters were arrested after they threw rocks at police, Israeli police said.
Israel launched its military offensive with the declared objective of stopping Hamas firing rockets into Israel.
It has since discovered a network of tunnels used by militants to infiltrate Israeli territory, and has vowed to destroy them to restore security.
Efforts to broker a ceasefire have been continuing despite the continued violence.
Reports suggest a deal under discussion could allow Israeli forces to remain in Gaza to destroy tunnels.
Palestinian leaders say this is the start of the “uprising of freedom and independence”. Thousands marched from the outskirts of Ramallah towards the Qalandia checkpoint calling for an end to the Israeli occupation.
Youths threw stones and petrol bombs towards the checkpoint and tried to destroy the barrier. Israeli police say they used percussion bombs and tear gas.
The demonstration was called for by a group of youths on Facebook, among them the son of the popular imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has urged Palestinians to expand the protests, and leaders in the West Bank have called for a “day of anger” on Friday.
Israel’s army has begun a ground offensive against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip, stepping up its 11-day-old military operation.
Troops and tanks were sent into Gaza to deal “a significant blow to Hamas”, Israel said.
A Hamas spokesman said Israel would “pay a high price” for its actions.
Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the invasion after days of intensive rocket fire and air strikes between the two sides.
Gaza’s health ministry said 11 Palestinians had been killed since the ground offensive began on Thursday night.
A five-month-old child was among the dead, Palestinian medics told AFP news agency. Israel said it had killed 14 “terrorists” overnight.
Israel meanwhile suffered its first military fatality, with the death of a soldier during the invasion, it said.
Some 258 Palestinians – three-quarters of them civilians – have died since the start of the wider Israeli operation on July 8, officials in Gaza say.
An Israeli civilian was killed from mortar fire, and several Israelis have been seriously injured, Israeli medics say.
Israel’s army has begun a ground offensive against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip
Announcing the ground offensive, the Israeli military said: “Following 10 days of Hamas attacks by land, air and sea, and after repeated rejections of offers to de-escalate the situation, the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] has initiated a ground operation within the Gaza Strip.”
It said the goal was to “establish a reality in which Israeli residents can live in safety and security without continuous indiscriminate terror, while striking a significant blow to Hamas’ terror infrastructure”.
In Gaza City overnight, plumes of black smoke could be seen from the border area where Israeli troops were operating, AP news agency reported.
Israel said the initial phase was aimed at targeting tunnels Hamas has dug under the border with Israel to use in attacks.
On Wednesday 13 militants infiltrated into Israel through a tunnel aiming to attack a kibbutz, Israeli officials said. The Israeli military said it killed at least one of the militants, while the others are retreated through the tunnel.
Reuters news agency said Palestinians reported heavy clashes along the length of the eastern border, as well as in the northern towns of Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahiya.
Military spokesman Gen. Moti Almoz warned residents of Gaza to evacuate areas in which the army was operating.
“This operation will be extended as much as necessary,” he said.
Israel approved the drafting of 18,000 more reservists on Thursday evening, bringing the total of extra troops called up since July 8 to 65,000.
Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal said that the Israeli ground operation was “destined to failure”.
“What the occupier Israel failed to achieve through its air and sea raids, it will not be able to achieve with a ground offensive,” he said.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said the ground operation would lead to “more bloodshed” and called on Israel to stop.
Mahmoud Abbas, whose Fatah party recently agreed to a unity government with Hamas, was meeting Egyptian officials in Cairo amid efforts to negotiate a truce.
Israel says it has carried out more than 1,960 attacks on Gaza since July 9, while militants have fired some 1,380 rockets at Israel. It says more than 50 rockets have been fired at Israel since the ground operation began.
The UN says at least 1,370 homes have been destroyed in Gaza and more than 18,000 people displaced in recent hostilities.
The ground offensive follows attempts in Cairo to negotiate a new ceasefire.
There was a temporary ceasefire on Thursday to allow Palestinians to stock up on supplies and aid workers to distribute water, food and hygiene kits.
The truce lasted for five hours, although both sides reported violations.
Israel has announced it will observe a “humanitarian ceasefire” in Gaza on July 17, after days of deadly rocket and missile exchanges with militants.
A statement from the Israeli military said it would hold fire on Thursday, from 10:00 to 15:00, to allow residents to stock up on supplies.
Palestinian officials say Israeli raids have killed 220 Gazans and wounded almost 1,800 since July 8.
Hamas militants have fired more than 1,200 rockets, killing one Israeli.
The ceasefire had been requested by the UN and other international organizations.
Israel has agreed to 5-hour ceasefire to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza
But the statement by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) added that Israel would respond “firmly and decisively” should the humanitarian window be used by militants “for the purpose of launching attacks against Israeli civilian or military targets”.
The move was announced hours after Hamas, the dominant force in Gaza, confirmed that it had rejected an earlier ceasefire proposed by Egypt.
Israel initially observed the ceasefire on Tuesday, but resumed its strikes amid continued rocket fire from Gaza.
Four children were among those killed in Israeli strikes on Wednesday. They died while playing on a beach near Gaza City.
The IDF said they were “carefully investigating” the incident, adding that “based on preliminary results, the target of this strike was Hamas terrorist operatives”.
“The reported civilian causalities from this strike are a tragic outcome,” the statement said.
Israel launched its Operation Protective Edge on July 8. Its stated objective is to halt Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel, but the UN says most of those killed in Gaza have been civilians.
Gaza militants fired dozens of rockets into Israel on Wednesday.
Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told reporters that the group did not accept Egypt’s ceasefire proposal and that Israel would pay a heavy price for its strikes.
Hamas – designated a terrorist organization by Israel and the US, among others – is demanding the easing of border closures in Gaza and the release of Hamas prisoners.
Egypt launched an initiative on Monday to halt Israel-Palestinian conflict.
On Tuesday, Israel has accepted the truce proposal for the conflict with Gaza.
Hamas, which controls Gaza, has not formally responded. But its armed wing has rejected the plan as a “surrender”.
Under the terms, the ceasefire should begin immediately, followed by a series of meetings in Cairo with high-level delegations from both sides.
Palestinian officials say at least 192 people have been killed by Israeli air strikes launched eight days ago to stop militants firing rockets into Israel.
There have been no Israeli air strikes into Gaza since the 09:00 truce, but at least one rocket has been fired from Gaza into Israel.
Egypt launched an initiative to halt Israel-Palestinian conflict
Israel’s security cabinet, convened by PM Benjamin Netanyahu, voted to approve the truce on Tuesday morning, minutes before the proposed time for it to come into effect.
Peter Lerner, a spokesman for the IDF, Israel’s military, said: “In accordance with the government directives, the IDF now holds fire. We remain alert and preserve high preparedness levels, both defensive and offensive. If the Hamas terror organization will fire at Israel, we shall respond.”
For now, Hamas sources are saying its attacks will “increase in ferocity and intensity” unless Israel releases prisoners and co-operates with Egypt to lift economic restrictions on Gaza.
That is not encouraging but does not mean that a deal will not ultimately be done – just that it will not be easy, our correspondent says.
Meanwhile the casualty figures continue to mount.
Three people were killed in Khan Younis, south of Gaza, on Tuesday morning, shortly before Israel accepted the proposed truce.
Of the 192 now reported dead by the Palestinian health authority, the UN estimates that over three-quarters were civilians.
An estimated 1,400 Palestinians have been injured.
Israel disputes the Palestinian casualty figures, saying they were based on Hamas sources and were not objective.
At least four Israelis have been seriously injured since the violence flared, but no-one has been killed.
Israeli sources said at least three rockets landed in and around the southern Israeli city of Eilat overnight.
Reports suggest they may have been fired from the Sinai peninsula in Egypt rather than from Gaza.
Ukraine’s forces and pro-Russian militants in the east have agreed to extend their week-long ceasefire by 72 hours.
President Petro Poroshenko is hoping for progress on his peace plan.
The announcement came hours after Petro Poroshenko had signed a landmark EU trade pact – the issue that has been the trigger of the recent crisis.
The deadline for the ceasefire to expire was Friday at 22:00.
Separatists in the east held talks on Friday with mediators, including Ukraine’s former President Leonid Kuchma, Moscow’s ambassador in Ukraine and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
Ukraine’s forces and pro-Russian militants in the east have agreed to extend their week-long ceasefire by 72 hours (photo AP)
The leader of the self-declared “Donetsk People’s Republic” in the east, Alexander Borodai, said the new truce would be observed until June 30.
Petro Poroshenko met officials to discuss the truce after returning from Brussels.
A statement was later posted on the Ukrainian presidential website confirming the truce until 22:00 on Monday.
The statement pointed to a policy statement on Ukraine, issued by the European Council on Friday which set out key steps it expected to happen by Monday.
They include the return of three key checkpoints to Ukrainian forces and the “launch of substantial negotiations on the implementation of President Poroshenko’s peace plan”.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier said he would welcome an extension, but not if it were simply an ultimatum for separatists to lay down their arms.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has insisted on a long-term ceasefire to allow for negotiations between the Ukrainian government and separatists, urging Petro Poroshenko to embark on a “path of peace, dialogue and accord”.
Petro Poroshenko set out a 15-point peace plan on 20 June. It involves decentralizing power and holding early local and parliamentary elections.
It also proposes the creation of a six-mile buffer zone on the Ukrainian-Russian border, and a safe corridor for pro-Russian separatists to leave the conflict areas.
Fighting is said to have continued in some areas of eastern Ukraine despite the ceasefire.
Pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine have announced that they will observe a ceasefire until Friday morning, responding to the Ukrainian forces’ unilateral ceasefire.
The rebel announcement was made in Donetsk by Alexander Borodai, a leader of the self-styled “Donetsk People’s Republic” which is defying Kiev.
On June 20, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced a 15-point peace plan and declared a week-long truce.
Alexander Borodai is known as one of the leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic
Alexander Borodai was speaking after attending preliminary peace talks in Donetsk.
The high-level talks also involved representatives of the other breakaway region – Luhansk – and Viktor Medvedchuk, an opponent of the Kiev authorities who is close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russia’s Ambassador Mikhail Zurabov was also there, along with former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, who is seen as a mediator for President Poroshenko. European mediators from the OSCE security organization also participated.
Last week President Putin cautiously welcomed the Kiev ceasefire. The plan involves decentralizing power, holding early elections, and creating a 6-mile buffer zone on the Ukrainian-Russian border.
The rebels say they will not disarm until Ukrainian government troops have left the east. The militants still control key government buildings across Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
“The ceasefire will take effect as announced earlier – until 10:00 on June 27,” Alexander Borodai said, referring to President Poroshenko’s declaration on Friday.
“During that time there will be ceasefire monitoring by Russia and the OSCE.
“We hope that during the ceasefire both sides will manage to reach agreement and start consultations on how to proceed with talks and a peace settlement.”
President Vladimir Putin has announced that he supports a peace plan tabled by Ukraine – as long as it includes “practical action” to start talks.
The Russian president said Kiev must negotiate and make compromises with pro-Russian rebels for the plan to be “viable and realistic”.
Vladimir Putin also said a week-long truce – declared by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko – must not be used as an “ultimatum”.
Clashes have continued in eastern Ukraine, with rebel attacks overnight injuring six border guards.
President Vladimir Putin said Kiev must negotiate and make compromises with pro-Russian rebels
The separatist fighters have dismissed the truce, accusing the Ukrainian army of violating their own ceasefire.
Meanwhile, the US has imposed sanctions – including asset freezes – against seven pro-Russian leaders in Ukraine.
Western leaders have threatened additional sanctions against Russia, which they accuse of stoking tension in Ukraine. Moscow denies the claim.
A statement issued by the Kremlin on Saturday evening said that President Vladimir Putin supported Petro Poroshenko’s ceasefire, “as well as his stated intentions to take a number of concrete steps to achieve a peaceful settlement”.
According to the statement, Vladimir Putin also insisted that the plan would only work if it led to “meaningful negotiations and political compromise between the opposing sides in eastern Ukraine”.
Ukrainian forces have struggled to regain control of buildings and territory that have been seized by the armed separatists in eastern regions bordering Russia.
On Friday night, the separatists attacked three Ukrainian border posts in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, Kiev said.
According to Ukrainian officials, pro-Russian separatists have carried out several attacks on Ukrainian troops despite a unilateral ceasefire declared by Kiev.
They say at least six border guards had been injured in shelling in the east.
The rebels earlier dismissed the week-long truce called by President Petro Poroshenko, the first step of his peace plan announced on Friday.
Pro-Russian separatists have carried out several attacks on Ukrainian troops despite a unilateral ceasefire declared by Kiev
On Saturday, however, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he backed the plan – if it included talks with the rebels.
Vladimir Putin also said Ukraine must make compromises with the rebels.
He repeated the Kremlin’s earlier criticism of the plan, saying that the temporary ceasefire which accompanied the proposals must not be offered as an ultimatum.
Meanwhile, the US imposed sanctions – including asset freezes – against seven pro-Russian leaders in Ukraine.
Western leaders have threatened additional sanctions against Russia, which they accuse of stoking tension in Ukraine. Moscow denies the claim.
In a separate development, Vladimir Putin ordered forces in Russia’s central military district to be put on full combat alert for a week.
The drill does not affect troops near the border with Ukraine. Vladimir Putin has ordered several such alerts to test combat readiness in recent months.
Overnight, the separatists attacked three Ukrainian border posts in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, Kiev said.
The rebels shelled the posts with rocket and mortar fire, injuring six border guards.
The gunmen also attacked Ukrainian forces outside the Kramatorsk airfield, in the Donetsk region.
The Ukrainian forces returned fire, and all the attacks were repelled, Kiev said. However, Ukraine’s border guard service said its personnel at the Izvaryne post, Luhansk region, were forced to retreat into Russian territory.
A number of casualties were reported among the separatists.
President Petro Poroshenko on Friday declared the ceasefire to give rebels time to disarm. It became effective from 22:00 local time.