GAZA/JERUSALEM, July 17 (Reuters) - A five-hour humanitarian truce agreed by Israel and Hamas came into force on Thursday, hours after the Israeli military said it fought Palestinian gunmen who infiltrated from Gaza.
About a dozen Palestinian fighters tunneled under the border, emerging near an Israeli community, and at least one was killed after Israeli aircraft bombed the group, the military said.
A break for five hours in 10 days of fighting was requested by the United Nations to allow Gaza residents to gather supplies and repair infrastructure damaged in warfare that has killed at least 224 Palestinians, most of them, Gaza health officials said, civilians.
In Israel, a civilian has been killed by one of more than 1,300 Palestinian rockets fired and more than half a dozen people have been wounded in frequent strikes that have made a race to shelters a routine for hundreds of thousands of people.
After the early morning clash over the tunnel, air raid sirens sounded across Israel, including in the Tel Aviv area, the country's heartland, warning of a heavy barrage of incoming rockets. The military said at least one rocket was intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system and another fell in a town near Tel Aviv. There were no reports of casualties.
But there were no immediate reports of violations of the humanitarian truce after it went into effect at 10 a.m. (0700 GMT).
Israel's military said it would respond "firmly and decisively" if militants in Gaza launched attacks during the five-hour break.
President Barack Obama said on Wednesday the United States supported Egyptian efforts to bring about a ceasefire. U.S. officials would use their diplomatic resources over the next 24 hours to pursue closing a deal, he said.
Egypt had proposed a permanent ceasefire plan on Tuesday, which Israel accepted and Hamas, saying its terms had been ignored, rejected.
Israeli media reports said Egypt was continuing its truce efforts and that senior Israeli officials would hold talks in Cairo on Thursday on a ceasefire. A spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined to comment.
On Wednesday, an Israeli gunboat off Gaza's Mediterranean coast shelled a beach, killing four boys - two aged 10 and the others 9 and 11 - from one family and critically wounding another youngster, witnesses and Ashraf al-Qidra of the Gaza Health Ministry said.
The Israeli military said the reported civilian casualties were unintended and "tragic" and it was investigating what happened. "Based on preliminary results, the target of this strike was Hamas terrorist operatives," it said in a statement.
One Israeli has been killed by shelling from Gaza since the Israeli offensive began on July 8, in conflict largely triggered by the killing of three Israeli teens in the occupied West Bank and the death of a Palestinian youth in a suspected revenge murder.
Most of the Palestinian projectiles have crashed on open ground or been intercepted by Iron Dome.
Gaza's Al-Mezan Center for Human rights said 259 houses have been demolished by Israeli air strikes and 1,034 damaged, along with 34 mosques and four hospitals.
(Additional reporting by Dan Williams in Jerusalem, Writing by Ari Rabinovitch, Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Ralph Boulton)
BEFORE YOU GO
08/08/2014 2:47 PM EDT
White House Concerned By Renewed Fighting
The White House on Friday urged Israel and the Palestinians to resume talks and do what they can to protect civilians after Egyptian-mediated negotiations failed to extend a ceasefire and rocket fire resumed.
"The United States is very concerned about today's developments in Gaza," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.
"We condemn the renewed rocket fire and we are concerned about the safety and security of civilians on both sides of that conflict," he said.
08/08/2014 1:42 PM EDT
Official: 5 Palestinians Killed In Gaza
Five Palestinians, including a 10-year-old boy, have been killed in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza since a ceasefire fell apart on Friday, a Palestinian medical official reported to Agence France Presse.
Meanwhile, the Israeli army said Palestinian militants fired 35 rockets into Israel on Friday, injuring a soldier and a civilian.
The father of a ten-year old Palestinian boy, who was killed in an Israeli air strike on the Sheikh Radwan neighbourhood in northern Gaza City, mourns at the city's Al-Shifa hospital, on August 8, 2014. (MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)
08/08/2014 9:23 AM EDT
Palestinian Delegation Says Gaza Talks Will Continue
Palestinian factions will remain in Cairo and press on with Egyptian-mediated talks despite the end of the ceasefire in Gaza, the head of the delegation, Fatah official Azzam Ahmed, said on Friday.
"We are not for escalation. We are ready to continue through our Egyptian brothers in negotiating to reach a final agreement that would return the rights to their owners," Ahmed said. "I mean here lifting the blockade of Gaza."
Ahmed said Palestinian negotiators were due to meet Egyptian intelligence officials, who have been mediating the talks, later in the day. He said Palestinian factions were united in their decision not to extend the 72-hour truce that ended at 0500 GMT and had been clear about their basic demands to end the conflict.
08/08/2014 9:13 AM EDT
Egypt: Agreement Close In Gaza Talks
Egypt called on Friday for an immediate resumption of the ceasefire in Gaza and a return to the negotiating table, saying that only a few outstanding issues remained in negotiations it was mediating between Israel and the Palestinians.
"The foreign ministry calls on all sides to rise to their responsibilities ... and to return immediately to the ceasefire commitment and exploit the opportunity available to resume negotiations on the very limited sticking points that remain in the fastest possible time," the foreign ministry said in a statement.
08/08/2014 3:58 AM EDT
Israeli Airstrikes On Gaza Resume
BREAKING: Israel says it's resumed strikes on Gaza in response to rocket fire, after end of 3-day truce.— The Associated Press (@AP) August 8, 2014
08/08/2014 3:02 AM EDT
Cease-Fire Ends With New Rocket Attacks
A 72-hour cease-fire expired at 8 a.m. today, and not long after, Gaza militants began firing rockets at Israel, The Associated Press reported.
The Israeli military said at least 10 rockets had been fired at Israel since the truce ended. Prior to the attacks, a senior official for Hamas said the militant groups would not extend the cease-fire.
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08/06/2014 2:46 PM EDT
Official: Israel Agrees To Extend Ceasefire
Israel has conditionally agreed to extend a ceasefire that ended a month of fighting in Gaza beyond a Friday deadline, an Israeli official said on Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The official did not say for how much longer Israel had agreed to extend the truce, only that: "Israel has expressed its readiness to extend the truce under its current terms," referring to the deal brokered by Egypt that took effect on Tuesday.
Hamas had no immediate comment.
08/06/2014 2:12 PM EDT
IDF: Rocket Sirens Were False Alarm
IDF confirms rocket sirens in southern Israel were false alarm http://t.co/QN677jtlXE— Haaretz.com (@haaretzcom) August 6, 2014
08/06/2014 1:18 PM EDT
Report: Rocket Sirens Sound At Gaza Border
ABC Foreign Editor Jon Williams reports that the IDF have confirmed the rocket sirens are sounding, but are checking to see if it is a false alarm.
08/05/2014 4:20 PM EDT
Israel Arrests Kidnapping Suspect
Reuters reports that Israel has arrested one of the suspects in the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank in June.
Hussam Kawasme, a 40-year-old resident of the West Bank city of Hebron, was arrested on July 11 in connection with the killing of Israelis Gil-Ad Shaer, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrah, who went missing on June 12 and were discovered dead a couple of weeks later.
Their kidnapping sparked a cycle of violence that led to the month-long conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.
Kawasme's arrest was made public for the first time on Tuesday in a document from an Israeli court case over whether houses belonging to him and two other suspects - who remain at large - should be destroyed as a punitive measure.
The lawyers listed as representing Kawasme were not reachable for comment.
The court document said Kawasme had admitted to helping to organize the kidnapping - securing funding from the Hamas Islamist group in Gaza and purchasing weapons which he passed on to the two other suspects who carried out the attack.
Kawasme also helped to bury the bodies of the teenagers in a plot of land he had bought a few months earlier, it said.
Israel has named the other two suspects in the case as Marwan Kawasme and Amar Abu Aysha.