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Israel, Hamas agree to five-hour ceasefire after 4 children killed

Four Palestinian children were killed by Israeli shelling on a beach, where they were playing at the fishing port of Gaza City.

The first strike from a naval boat killed one boy, while the other three tried to run away to safety.

But 30 seconds later, another shelling killed the other three.

The four boys, who were cousins, were aged nine to 11.

Five others were left injured, some of whom sought refuge at a hotel where foreign journalists were staying.

The killings prompted the United Nations to appeal for a five-hour humanitarian truce, which both Israel and Hamas have since accepted starting at 10am (3pm local time) on Thursday morning.

An Egyptian-brokered ceasefire failed yesterday after Hamas rejected it.

Several hours after the strikes that killed the four boys, the Israeli military said they were investigating the incident.

"Based on preliminary results, the target of this strike was Hamas terrorist operatives," said the military in a statement.

"The reported civilian casualties from the strike are a tragic outcome."

Yesterday, Israel had issued flyers and text messages warning 100,000 people in northeaster Gaza to evacuate their homes ahead of "air campaigns".

Yet, these warnings appeared to have fallen on deaf ears, with only limited numbers seen leaving. Children picked up many of the flyers and played with them, an AFP correspondent said.

“Where should we go?” asked Faisal Hassan, a father of five who lives in Zeitun.

Hamas dismissed the warning as a scare tactic, telling residents there was “no need to worry”.

The Palestinian death toll has climbed up to 220. One Israeli was also killed by a Hamas rocket earlier this week.

Photos: Twitter, Reuters

Source: Reuters, AFP, New York Times

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