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Israel and Hamas declare 12-hour Gaza truce

The Israeli military and Hamas said on Saturday that they would observe a 12-hour ceasefire from 8am (1pm Singapore time), but a longer-term truce remained elusive for now.  

Hamas said that it and other militant groups in Gaza had reached “national consensus on a humanitarian truce” and Israel later confirmed that it would observe what it called “a humanitarian window in the Gaza Strip”.

A statement from the Hamas-run interior ministry in Gaza warned people not to approach bombed-out buildings and militant bases for fear of “explosive objects”.  

Earlier, US Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking from Cairo, said that efforts to broker a longer halt to the fighting had so far yet to bear fruit.  

He arrived in Paris on Saturday where France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius was to host a meeting later in the day of counterparts from the United States, Britain, Germany, Italy, Qatar, Turkey and the EU.  

Death toll rises

Violence, however, continued in the early hours of Saturday, the conflict’s 19th day, with Israeli air strikes and shelling killing 19 people, among them four children and a paramedic, Gaza medical services said.

The conflict, which began July 8 when Israel launched an operation to stamp out rocket fire from Gaza and destroy Hamas tunnels, has claimed 884 Palestinian lives, most of them civilians, plus 37 Israeli soldiers, two Israeli civilians and a Thai migrant worker.  -- AFP

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