JERUSALEM —Israeli forces began shelling in the Gaza Strip late Sunday hours after Hamas declared a 24-hour cease-fire. The Israeli government said it was resuming military operations because Palestinian fighters had not observed previous calls for a truce.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told television viewers on the U.S.-based CBS programFace the Nation that Hamas had violated several previous cease-fires by continuing to fire rockets from Gaza into Israel.
“They violated their own cease-fire and they are firing at us as we speak. So Israel is not obliged and will not let a terrorist organization to decide when it’s convenient for them to stop for a moment, rearm and continue firing on our citizens and our people,” he said.
The Hamas group that controls Gaza had declared a 24-hour temporary cease-fire, until midday Monday as residents prepared to mark the end of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting and atonement.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that in response to the assessment of the United Nations and taking into consideration the condition of our people in Gaza, especially in light of the coming Eid holiday, there was discussion between the factions. He said they have reached an agreement to accept the offer of a 24-hour humanitarian calm, starting from two o’clock Sunday.
Five cease-fires have been proposed since the fighting began nearly three weeks ago. Except for a 12-hour pause on Saturday, none have been observed by both parties.
Palestinian officials said more than 1,000 Palestinians have been killed and about 6,000 wounded in the conflict, most of them civilians.
Israel says 43 of its soldiers have been killed as well as three civilians.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged both Israel and the Palestinians “in the strongest terms” to continue the cease-fire and then observe it. He said the violence has “killed too many, marred so many lives and caused such destruction.
Israel launched the operation in Gaza to destroy rocket-launching installations and infiltration tunnels into Israel. The military says more than 30 tunnels have been destroyed.
Western diplomats have been trying to negotiate an Egyptian proposal that would allow a one-week cease-fire. But each side has posed conditions that the other side does not appear ready to accept.
Israel wants a demilitarized Gaza, while Hamas says Israel should end its blockade of the enclave and cease all aggression.
Several thousand Israelis demonstrated in Tel Aviv Saturday night for an end to the fighting.
At the same time, several hundred protestors staged a counter-demonstration nearby in support of the Israeli military operation.