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Gaza City Fighting Resumes As Truce For Aid Ends


GAZA/JERUSALEM (Reuters) -- Clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian gunmen have resumed in the city of Gaza after the expiration of a three-hour truce to allow in humanitarian aid, residents said.

Residents of the northern Gaza Strip had reported exchanges of fire between Israeli soldiers and Hamas militants during the 1 p.m.-4 p.m. (1100 GMT-1400 GMT) temporary truce period. In Gaza City, hundreds had taken to the streets during the hiatus, shopping and visiting relatives.

Meanwhile, Israel said that talks were still under way with Egypt over a cease-fire proposal for the Gaza Strip despite French President Nicolas Sarkozy's announcement that the plan had been accepted by the Jewish state.

"We welcome the French-Egyptian initiative. We want to see it succeed," said Mark Regev, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

But Regev added: "The talks continue on the basis of that initiative. A sustainable calm in the south will be based upon the total absence of hostile fire from Gaza into Israel and an effective arms embargo on Hamas that enjoys international support."

A Hamas official in the Gaza Strip also said that the Egyptian proposal was "still under discussion."

'Clear War Crime'

Earlier, a top world Islamic body accused Israel of war crimes in its Gaza offensive and said it should face an international court, after tank shells killed 42 Palestinians at a UN school.

"This is a brutal crime and a clear war crime, along with other attacks, and its perpetrators must not escape an international trial," Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary-general of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) said in a statement.

The 57-state OIC, based in Jeddah, represents over 1 billion Muslims. The body, whose charter dates back to the early 1970s, when Islamic countries were divided along the lines of the Cold War, has little political power.

Israel acknowledged hitting a school run by a United Nations refugee aid agency where hundreds of people were taking refuge on January 6. Medics said 42 people were killed.

Israel says its offensive in Gaza since December 27 aims to end rocket salvoes into Israel by Islamist militants including Hamas, a faction that rules the Gaza Strip.

More than 600 Palestinians have been killed in the fighting. According to UN figures, more than a quarter of the Palestinian dead are civilians. Israel has lost seven soldiers and three civilians in the conflict.
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