Last updated: 20 July, 2014

Hamas accepts call for three-hour humanitarian truce

Israel and Hamas have agreed to observe an immediate two-hour humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza’s Shejaiya neighbourhood, halting a blistering bombing campaign in the area, sources on both sides said Sunday.

Hamas also said its militants would abide by the truce, which both sides said was brokered by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

“There is going to be a humanitarian window between 1:30 and 3:30 (1030 and 1230 GMT) in Shejaiya,” an army spokeswoman said.

“The population is urged to evacuate within this timeframe to areas west of Shejaiya,” the army said on its official Twitter page.

“Any attempt to exploit this lull will be answered,” it said.

Hamas said it had agreed to the Red Cross proposal although it spoke of a three-hour lull.

“The ICRC contacted (us) and offered to broker a three-hour humanitarian truce to enable ambulances to evacuate the dead and wounded and Hamas accepted it,” spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement.

Contacted by AFP, an ICRC spokesman refused to confirm or deny it had made the proposal, saying only: “We have been making every effort to ensure ways to evacuate the dead and the wounded.”

The move came after Israel pounded Shejaiya, which lies between Gaza City and the border fence, leaving at least 40 people dead and nearly 400 wounded.

The intensity of the bombardment prevented emergency services from accessing the neighbourhood and dead bodies lay in the streets as thousands fled in terror, an AFP correspondent reported.