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Israel Announces Humanitarian Truce In Gaza

Palestinian medics carry a girl, who they said was wounded by an Israeli air strike, at a hospital in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on August 2.

Israel has announced a seven-hour “humanitarian cease-fire” in most of the Gaza Strip.

The military said the unilateral truce would begin at 0700 GMT on August 4, warning it would fight back if attacked.

It added that the cease-fire would not apply in areas of the southern Gaza town of Rafah where Israeli forces are still operating.

A spokesman for the Hamas militant group, Sami Abu Zuhri, described the move as “an attempt to divert the attention from Israeli massacres."

More than 1,770 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed during the 28-day conflict between Israel and Hamas militants.

On the Israeli side, 64 soldiers and three civilians have died.

The Israeli announcement came amid world outrage over a deadly attack at a UN-run school in the Palestinian territory, which is sheltering some 3,000 Palestinians who had fled their homes due to the fighting.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the August 3 attack that killed 10 people was a "moral outrage and a criminal act," and constituted a "gross violation of international law."

"This madness must stop," he said in a statement.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the United States was “appalled” by the "disgraceful" shelling.

She also called on Israel to do "more to meet its own standards and avoid civilian casualties."

The Israeli army said it targeted three militants from the Islamic Jihad group on a motorbike near the school.

Government spokesman Mark Regev said that if militants were turning the vicinities of schools into war zones they should be held responsible.

It was the third deadly attack on a UN school sheltering Palestinians during the Gaza conflict.

In a statement early on August 4, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Gaza operation "will continue until its goals are reached: a return of quiet and security for Israeli citizens for a long period, while significantly harming terror infrastructure."

The army earlier confirmed it began withdrawing some troops from Gaza.

Military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner said troops were close to completing its main aim of destroying tunnels used by militants to infiltrate Israel.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and AP
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