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Gaza, Israel Break Truce               07/28 06:05

   Israeli jets struck three sites in Gaza on Monday after a rocket was 
launched at Israel, the military said, disrupting a relative lull in the 
war-torn territory at the start of a major Muslim holiday.

   JERUSALEM (AP) -- Israeli jets struck three sites in Gaza on Monday after a 
rocket was launched at Israel, the military said, disrupting a relative lull in 
the war-torn territory at the start of a major Muslim holiday.

   The strikes followed an almost 12-hour pause in fighting and came as 
international efforts intensified to end the three-week conflict between Israel 
and Hamas. The U.N. called for an "immediate" cease-fire.

   Israel's military said it struck two rocket launchers and a rocket 
manufacturing facility in central and northern Gaza after a rocket hit southern 
Israel earlier in the day. The rocket caused no damage or injuries.

   Earlier, the Israeli military said it had not carried out any attacks in 
Gaza since 9:30 p.m. on Sunday but that troops on the ground were pressing on 
with efforts to destroy the cross-border tunnels constructed by Hamas for 
attacks inside Israel.

   Also, the Israeli military opened artillery fire on Beit Lahiya in northern 
Gaza in response to the rocket fired at Ashkelon, said the office of Israel's 
military spokesman. "Quiet will be met with quiet," the office statement said.

   As Muslims began celebrating the Eid al-Fitr holiday on Monday that marks 
the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, there was fear and mourning instead of 
holiday cheer in the Gaza Strip.

   Palestinian families huddled inside their homes, fearing more airstrikes, 
while those who came to a cemetery in Gaza City's Sheik Radwan neighborhood to 
pay traditional respects at their ancestors' graves gathered around a large 
crater from an airstrike a week ago that had broken up several graves.

   In New York, an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council called for 
"an immediate and unconditional humanitarian cease-fire."

   And while it was the council's strongest statement yet on the conflict that 
has already killed 1,030 Palestinians, 43 Israeli soldiers and three civilians 
on the Israeli side, it was not a resolution and therefore not binding.

   Palestinian U.N. Ambassador Riyad Mansour did not hide his disappointment. 
He said the council should have adopted a strong and legally binding resolution 
a long time ago demanding an immediate halt to Israel's "aggression," providing 
the Palestinian people with protection and lifting the siege in the Gaza Strip 
so goods and people can move freely.

   "You cannot keep 1.8 million Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip in this 
huge prison," Mansour told reporters. "That is a recipe for disaster. It is 
inhumane, and it has to be stopped and it has to be lifted."

   Israeli U.N. ambassador Ron Prosor also criticized the statement --- though 
from a very different perspective --- saying it lacked balance because it 
didn't mention Hamas, the firing of rockets into Israel or Israel's right to 
defend itself.

   Israel says it started its Gaza operation on July 8 to stop the rocket fire 
from the coastal territory and intensified it on July 17 to neutralize Hamas 
cross-border tunnels built to carry out attacks on Israeli territory.

   The pressure for a cease-fire followed new attacks launched by Israel and 
Hamas on Sunday despite the back-and-forth over proposals for another temporary 
halt to the fighting. The Security Council urged Israel and Hamas "to accept 
and fully implement the humanitarian cease-fire into the Eid period and 
beyond." It said this would allow for the delivery of urgently needed 
assistance.

   The council's presidential statement also called on the parties "to engage 
in efforts to achieve a durable and fully respected cease-fire, based on the 
Egyptian initiative."

   On Sunday, President Barack Obama telephoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin 
Netanyahu to express his concern over the mounting Palestinian casualties.

   The White House said Obama reiterated that Israel has a right to defend 
itself and condemned Hamas' rocket attacks. Obama said a lasting peace will 
ultimately require a demilitarized Gaza and dismantling of terror groups. The 
U.S. president also pushed for an immediate, unconditional cease-fire that 
would allow Israeli and Palestinian civilians to return to normalcy.

   International diplomats have hoped that a temporary lull in the fighting 
could be expanded into a more sustainable truce to end the bloodshed.


(KA)


 
 
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