IDF declares "unlimited truce" in Gaza
The Israeli military has declared an "unlimited truce" in Gaza as Palestinians celebrated the Muslim holiday Eid, following calls from the United Nations (UN) Security Council for both sides to observe an immediate ceasefire.
An uneasy lull in the fighting began at around 9.30pm last night after Hamas said it wanted a 24-hour pause to mark Eid al-Fitr, celebrating the end of the Ramadan fast.
And though a small number of rockets continued to fly from Gaza over the course of Monday - to which the Israeli army responded with tank and artillery shelling - it represented a significant reduction in violence and one of the calmest nights in the three-week conflict.
Speaking to Israel Radio on Monday, the military's chief spokesperson Brigadier General Motti Almoz said: "The situation is an unlimited truce." He nonetheless added that "the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) are free to attack after any fire if there is any."
The United Nations Security Council, which held an emergency meeting just after midnight (4am GMT) on Monday, had urged both sides to "accept and fully implement a humanitarian ceasefire into the Eid period and beyond".
This afternoon, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said representatives from Hamas and Israel had "expressed serious interest" in his request for a more formal 24-hour ceasefire on humanitarian grounds, though "have not yet agreed on the timing of its implementation".
The lull today was certainly only relative; at least 12 rockets were observed coming from Gaza throughout the day, the IDF said, while Gazan residents reported Israeli shelling in the east and north of the Strip. Health officials said two people, including a five-year-old boy, were killed in one of the attacks.
Israeli air, sea and ground attacks have killed some 1,037 Palestinians, mainly civilians and including many children, Gaza officials say. Israel says 43 of its soldiers have died, along with three civilians killed by rocket and mortar fire from Gaza.
The UN's call for an end to violence was reinforced today by a personal phone call in which the US President Barack Obama urged the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to hold fire "unconditionally".
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