Israel announces daily Gaza ‘pause’ for aid deliveries


AFP correspondents in Gaza said there were no reports of strikes, shelling or fighting on Sunday morning, although the military stressed in a statement there was “no cessation of hostilities in the southern Gaza Strip”.

The military said the pause was already in effect and part of efforts to “increase the volumes of humanitarian aid” following discussions with the UN and other organisations.

The United States, which has been pressing close ally Israel as well as Hamas to accept a ceasefire plan laid out by President Joe Biden, on Friday imposed sanctions on an extremist Israeli group for blocking and attacking Gaza-bound aid convoys.

The military said the eight soldiers killed on Saturday were hit by an explosion as they were travelling in an armoured vehicle near Rafah, where troops were engaged in fierce street battles against Palestinian militants.

Military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said the blast was “apparently from an explosive device planted in the area or from the firing of an anti-tank missile”.

Separately, two soldiers were killed in fighting in northern Gaza and another succumbed to wounds inflicted in recent fighting.

Abu Obaida, spokesman for Hamas’s military wing, vowed to “continue our painful strikes against the enemy wherever it may be”.

Saturday’s heavy losses brought the Israeli military’s overall toll to 309 deaths since it began its ground offensive in Gaza on Oct 27.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered his condolences following “this terrible loss” and said that “despite the heavy and unsettling price, we must cling to the goals of the war”.

Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas following the Palestinian group’s unprecedented Oct 7 attack that resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

The militants also seized 251 hostages. Of these, 116 remain in Gaza, although the army says 41 are dead.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 37,296 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-ruled territory.

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