UPDATE 1600 GMT: Israel has rejected a UN and Hamas proposal for a further humanitarian pause, as well as leaking US Secretary of State John Kerry’s ceasefire initiative to undermine it.
UPDATE 0940 GMT: The Israeli military has denied that it killed 15 Gazans in an airstrike on a UN shelter in Beit Hanoun on Thursday.
The army said it had found that an Israel shell hit the yard of the converted school, which was empty at the time, in response to anti-tank missiles fired from the shelter.
“The findings disprove claims about casualties within the school,” the army said.
The Israel Defense Forces initially said that a Hamas rocket or missile must have struck the shelter.
UPDATE 0930 GMT: The humanitarian pause has ended, with Israel carrying out at least four airstrikes after 20 rockets were fired from Gaza this morning.
At least three Gazans have been killed.
Amid a humanitarian pause in Israel’s attacks on Gaza on Saturday, recovery of bodies took the death toll from the 19-day conflict past 1000.
Photographs from areas like Shaja’ia and Beit Hanoun looked like the aftermath of an earthquake, following days of bombs and shelling shelling. Streets were rubbles, amid damaged mosques and collapsed homes, shops, and tower blocks.
A 12-hour pause was agreed by both Israel and Hamas on Saturday morning, and it was extended last night by the Israeli Cabinet until midnight Sunday (2100 GMT).
However, efforts for a long-term halt in the fighting appeared to be making no headway. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said, “Any humanitarian ceasefire that doesn’t include the complete withdrawal of (Israel’s) positions in the Gaza Strip, doesn’t enable the residents to go back to their homes and doesn’t allow the evacuation of the wounded, is unacceptable.”
Three rockets were fired into Israel on Saturday night and 20 more have been launched since midnight.
With the recovery of the bodies on Saturday, the Gazan death toll rose to at least 1,049 Palestinians, with more than 6,000 injured, since July 8.
Israel said five more of its soldiers were killed in pre-truce fighting in Gaza and two others died of wounds in hospital, bringing its losses to 42 troops.
Another Israeli soldier has reportedly been killed by a shell this morning.
Two Israeli civilians and a Thai farm laborer have been killed by Hamas rockets.
(Featured Photo: Destruction in Shaja’ia, east of Gaza City — Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto/Corbis)