TEL AVIV, July 28 (RIA Novosti) - The Israeli Army has officially confirmed Monday the suspension of “active phase” of military operation in the Gaza Strip for an indefinite period of time, and will now only respond to any aggression and look for Hamas’ underground tunnels, an Army representative told RIA Novosti.
“The Army has halted [its] active phase in the Gaza Strip. The liquidation of tunnels continues. Any attempt of aggression will find a response,” the representative told RIA Novosti, adding that the duration of the suspension order was not specified.
According to the military, there has been only one firing of the Gaza Strip so far on Monday.
“Hamas fired a rocket that hit Ashkelon this morning. Our forces responded by shooting toward the source of rocket fire in Beit Lahia,” the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said Monday on Twitter.
Fighting resumed between Palestine’s rebels from the Hamas movement and Israel after what seemed to be a promising 12-hour ceasefire on Saturday. Israel decided late Saturday to extend the ceasefire until the end of Sunday at the UN's request. The truce was called off after the Palestinian militants refused to maintain the truce demanding the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza and fired rockets at Israel.
Hamas was reported to have agreed to a new 24-hour ceasefire with the Israeli Army until 2:00 p.m. local time (11:00 GMT) on Monday, but Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told CNN hours later that Hamas violated the ceasefire.
Late Sunday the UN Security Council gathered for an emergency session to discuss the deterioration of the situation in the Gaza Strip. After the session, Eugene-Richard Gasana, Rwanda's UN ambassador and the Council’s president for July, issued a statement calling for “an immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire, allowing for the delivery of urgently needed assistance, and they urged all parties to accept and fully implement the humanitarian ceasefire into the Eid period and beyond.”
More than 1,000 Palestinians have died in the ongoing military operation launched by Israel early July against Hamas and its allied militant groups. According to recent estimates, the Israeli side has lost more than 40 soldiers and three civilians.
Israel launched its Operation Protective Edge aiming to put an end to rocket fire from Gaza and to undermine the Hamas movement, which controls the region, on July 8. On July 17, the Israeli Army switched to a ground assault, largely aimed at locating and destroying underground tunnels dug by militants to sneak into Israel and transport weapons.