Israel Enacts Partial Cease-fire In Gaza Strip
Following a weekend of deadly airstrikes, Israel enacted a seven-hour partial cease-fire on Monday in sections of the Gaza Strip. The humanitarian truce began at 10 a.m. local time. According to Israeli military officials, the cease-fire will not be applied to the southern Gaza town of Rafah, where heavy fighting continues.
The seven-hour humanitarian window was triggered by a deadly attack on a United Nations-run school in Rafah, killing at least 10 civilians, according to Palestinian officials. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which works with Palestinian refugees, said in a statement on its website on Monday that an UNRWA guard was killed in the airstrike, and at least 27 people were wounded. UNRWA has been sheltering thousands of Palestinian refugees at U.N. schools and facilities in the region since the conflict began in early July.
UNRWA officials condemned the Sunday airstrike on the school in Rafah, claiming that they had told the Israel Defense Forces the exact location of the school 33 times — including just an hour before the airstrike. UNRWA officials said:
We vigorously condemn today’s Israeli strike and find it incomprehensible that such violence has happened again, only four days since we carried out dead and wounded civilians who had sought refuge in a UN installation. We again call on the Israeli authorities immediately to investigate this appalling incident in Rafah. We made two similar calls after the shelling incidents at our schools housing thousands of displaced people in Beit Hanoun and Jabalia, which caused multiple deaths and injuries.
Israeli officials, however, have said that cross-border tunnels still exist in the Rafah region, and the military will continue to destroy them throughout this seven-hour cease-fire. "We’ve caused substantial damage to this network to an extent where we’ve basically taken this huge threat and made it minimal," an IDF spokesperson told The Guardian. He added that the IDF was in a "new phase" and withdrawing troops from the Gaza front lines.
But the IDF also confirmed via Twitter that it will respond to any attacks by Hamas during the humanitarian window. The military added that two rockets were intercepted by Iron Dome over the city of Ashkelon before the cease-fire began on Monday. The Iron Dome also allegedly intercepted a "rocket fired from Gaza" above the city of Ashdod on Monday afternoon, the IDF said.
According to Palestinian health officials, more than 1,800 Palestinians have been killed since the conflict began; most of them were civilians.
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