Posted on July 27, 2014 at 10:09 AM
GAZA CITY — Hamas agreed to a 24-hour truce after initially rejecting a similar offer by Israel, as fighting on both sides resumed Sunday.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the truce would go into effect at 2 p.m. Sunday, ahead of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which is expected to begin early this week.
The announcement comes after Israel offered a 24-truce late Saturday that was rejected by Hamas. The Israeli military hasn't said whether it will halt the majority of its operations during the time Hamas requested, but has said troops will continue to demolish militant tunnels.
Early Sunday, Israel resumed its ground offensive aimed at destroying Hamas weapons and tunnels after Palestinian militants lobbed rockets across the border after a 12-hour lull in hostilities Saturday.
The 20-day conflict has left more than 1,050 Palestinians dead. In Israel, 46 have died, including 43 soldiers, two civilians and a Thai worker.
The Israeli military charged that about a dozen rockets were launched from Gaza since midnight, and said it was resuming its military operations in the Gaza Strip as a result.
"Once again Hamas is cynically using the people of Gaza as a human shield," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said in a statement.
Saturday's cease-fire allowed Palestinians to move medical supplies and tend to the dead and injured in the Gaza Strip. Gazans found dozens of bodies buried under rubble of buildings demolished by airstrikes and shelling.
In Gaza, many say the high death toll belies any attempt by Israel to minimize civilian casualties.
"I wonder how Israeli mothers feel when they see our children killed, our homes attacked — do they really have hearts or do they just consider us animals," asked Um Ateyya, 57, a grandmother in Gaza City.
International efforts to secure a lasting cease-fire have so far failed. On Friday, Israel rejected a week-long truce because officials said it was would force them to interrupt their operations to destroy the tunnels it deems a strategic threat because they allow Hamas fighters to attack Israel.
A truce proposed by Egypt two weeks ago was rejected by Hamas because the group said it wasn't consulted. Hamas refuses to agree to any cease-fire that doesn't include the lifting of a blockade surrounding Gaza that has been in place since 2007.
Ahead of the announcement of the holiday cease-fire, Zuhri said any truce must include a withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, and that tens of thousands of displaced people must be allowed to return to their homes.
Israel's current terms are "not acceptable," he said in a text message to journalists.
Bhatti reported from Berlin. Contributing: The Associated Press