Gaza/Jerusalem, July 27 IANS | 4 months ago

Moments after the Hamas announcement of a 24-hour truce in the Gaza Strip, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday accused the Palestinian militant group of violating its own ceasefire and vowed to do whatever is to be done to protect his country.

"They are violating their own ceasefire. Under these circumstances, Israel will do what it must do to defend its people," Xinhua reported citing Netanyahu as saying, in an interview with CNN.

Hamas Sunday afternoon accepted a UN-proposed truce for 24 hours as Israel resumed its offensive earlier in the day, after a temporary truce came to an end.

The ongoing fighting between the Hamas movement and the Israeli army in Gaza, now in its 20th day, has claimed the lives of more than 1,000 Palestinians.

The announcement came as Sami Abu Zuhri, spokesman of Islamic Hamas movement in Gaza, in a text message, said: "In response to the UN intervention and considering our people's situation, it was agreed with the Palestinian factions to go for a 24-hour ceasefire that starts 2.00 p.m. Sunday."

The Israeli prime minister also said the forces will continue with its military campaign in a bid to dismantle Hamas' cross-border tunnel network, and to eliminate its rocket arsenal.

"I would say we want to stop firing rockets for sure. We want to dismantle the tunnel, the terror tunnel network we uncovered. I do not know if we will have 100 percent success," Netanyahu said.

On the Israeli side, 46 people consisting of 43 soldiers, have been killed in the operation so far.

In Cairo Friday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for an unconditional humanitarian truce in the strife-stricken Gaza Strip during the Muslim holiday of Eid-ul-Fitr that begins Monday.

At least five Palestinians were killed Sunday as Israel renewed its air strikes across the Gaza Strip following an unabated rocket firing by Hamas militants.

The Israeli military said it resumed its offensive Sunday morning on the Gaza Strip, cutting short a temporary ceasefire after Hamas militants rejected the truce and continued to fire rockets at Israel.

"Following Hamas' constant rocket firing, the Israel Defence Forces will now resume their aerial, naval and ground activity in the Gaza Strip," an official said.

Netanyahu also blamed Hamas for using civilians as "human shields".

"Our soldiers are dealing with it now," he added.

Israel's security cabinet approved a 24-hour extension Saturday night to a UN-brokered 12-hour humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.

However, the Israeli decision to extend the truce was not seconded by Hamas, who began launching rockets against Israeli cities.

Hamas insisted that any truce that does not guarantee a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip will not be accepted.

In another interview with CBS, Netanyahu stressed that his country does not deliberately target civilian Gazans, and slammed Hamas for provoking conflict in residential areas, adding that his long-term goal was to avert future attacks on Israel.

(Posted on 27-07-2014)

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