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UN, US call for immediate ceasefire in Gaza

Last updated on: July 28, 2014 19:51 IST

An uneasy calm prevailed in Gaza on Monday with Israel and Hamas scaling down their hostilities amid calls by the United States and the United Nation for an "immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire" to put an end to the 21-day conflict during Eid and beyond.

Israeli tank fire killed a four-year-old boy in the northern Gaza Strip, the first death since the two sides began observing an unofficial lull in fighting.

Israeli jets pounded three Hamas sites in Gaza after a rocket was launched at Israel. However, an Israeli army spokesman said there were no air strikes on Gaza since last night but that one rocket was fired from Gaza last night and another on Monday morning, with the army responding to it.

"This ceasefire or abatement is dynamic on the ground. If we need to, we will respond," Israel's chief military spokesman Brigadier General Motti Almoz said.

The latest death raised the Palestinian death toll to 1,036 in Israel's military campaign in Gaza to destroy rockets and cross-border tunnels which began on July 8. The conflict has also claimed the lives of 43 Israeli soldiers, two Israeli civilians and a Thai national.

The Gaza health ministry on Sunday revised the number of Palestinian dead down by 30 after some relatives found missing family members.

The United Nation Security Council late on Monday night called for an "immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire" between Israel and Palestine, asking the parties to implement the truce beyond the Muslim holiday of Eid and allow delivery of urgently needed assistance in Gaza.

An emergency session of the council backed a UN statement calling for a truce over Eid al-Fitr "and beyond".

The Security Council endorsed a statement from Rwanda, the current president of the council, calling for a "durable" truce based on an Egyptian initiative - under which a pause in hostilities would lead to substantive talks on the future of Gaza, including the opening of Gaza's border crossings.

Meanwhile, Gaza had its quietest night in weeks after a weekend punctuated by brief truce initiatives offered by both Israel and Hamas.

United States President Barack Obama also telephoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and called for an "immediate and unconditional ceasefire".

"The President underscored the US' strong condemnation of Hamas' rocket and tunnel attacks against Israel and reaffirmed Israel's right to defend itself. The President also reiterated the US' serious and growing concern about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives, as well as the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza," a White House statement said.

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