Fighting in Gaza resumes after lull

January 8th, 2009 - 4:13 am ICT by IANS  

Tel Aviv/Gaza, Jan 8 (DPA) Fighting in the Gaza Strip resumed shortly after the expiration of a three hour lull Israel initiated Wednesday afternoon to allow Palestinians to restock on basic supplies, killing nine additional people in the coastal salient.Before the lull went into effect medics said 24 Palestinians were killed or died of previously sustained wounds. Of the nine killed in the evening, three were sisters from the Abed Rabbo family, aged 6, 4 and 2, in the Jabalia refugee camp.

The Palestinian death toll was estimated to exceed 700, with the Palestinian Ministry of Health saying about half were women and children. Over 3,100 were said to have been wounded.

“There is no safe space in the Gaza Strip-no safe haven, no bomb shelters, and the borders are closed making this one of the rare conflicts where civilians have no place to flee,” Maxwell Gaylord, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator in Jerusalem said in a statement.

The UN said fuel and wheat grain remained priority items it needed to import to Gaza. Israel allowed some 80 humanitarian aid trucks into the Strip during the day.

“A three-hour pause is not enough - we need a permanent ceasefire,” Chris Gunness, the spokesman for UNRWA, the agency to aid Palestinian refugees, said. He said only this would allow the agency to resume delivery of food other services to over 750,000 refugees in the enclave.

Israel had said earlier that it welcomed a Franco-Egyptian proposal to end 13 days of fighting. A cabinet statement said it eyed the idea “favourably” but did not give further details.

Israeli airstrikes in the all parts of the Strip, from Beit Lahiya in the north to Rafah at the southern end, restarted just after 4 p.m., the marked hour for the lull to end, local media reported.

A spokeswoman for the military said at least 40 airstrikes were carried out Wednesday.

During the cessation of hostilities thousands of civilians were seen shopping in stores buying basic supplies of food. Traffic in Gaza City also saw a sharp increase.

Palestinian militants also restarted rocket fire, and at least 22 had been fired from inside Gaza over the day, the Israeli military said, several coming in the evening.

Three Israeli civilians and six soldiers have been killed since Operation Cast Lead began Dec 27. Four of the soldiers died in a friendly-fire incident.

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