Gaza toll at 220; truce today

 17 Jul 2014 - 4:19

Emergency workers and Israeli security personnel check a house damaged by a rocket fired by militants from the Gaza Strip yesterday, in the city of Ashkelon. See also page 8

GAZA CITY: Israel agreed to a UN request to halt its bombardment of Gaza for five hours on humanitarian grounds, after its naval strikes killed four children on a beach yesterday.
Israel’s campaign, now in its ninth day, has killed 220 Palestinians so far, with a Gaza-based human rights group saying over 80 percent of them were civilians.
In the same period, militants have fired more than 1,200 rockets at Israel. They claimed their first Israeli life on Tuesday.
The Israeli army announced it would halt its bombardment of Gaza between 10 am and 3 pm today, following a UN request for a humanitarian truce.
UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East peace process Robert Serry earlier told Israel’s Channel Two television that he had asked the military for a “humanitarian pause” in its Gaza offensive and that, if it agreed, he would ask Gaza militants to follow suit.
Hamas said it was considering the request.
As part of the peace initiative, a Hamas official met Egyptian leaders while Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Cairo to join the diplomatic efforts.
In addition to the four killed children, several people were also wounded in an apparent Israeli naval bombardment of a beach in Gaza City, medics said.
The Israeli military also dropped flyers and sent text messages telling 100,000 people in northeastern Gaza to evacuate their homes ahead of an air campaign in two districts east of Gaza City.