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Israel, Hamas Declare 2-Hour Ceasefire

After overnight shelling takes heavy toll in Gaza neighborhood
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 20, 2014 6:30 AM CDT
Israel, Hamas Declare 2-Hour Ceasefire
Palestinians who fled their homes in Shajaiyeh, arrive in Gaza City, Sunday, July 20, 2014. Hundreds of panicked residents have fled after heavy tank fire from Israeli forces.   (Lefteris Pitarakis)

(Newser) – Israel and Hamas have agreed to a two-hour humanitarian ceasefire, reportedly at the request of the Red Cross, after heavy shelling in the Gaza City neighborhood of Shijaiyah killed at least 30 people—and by some accounts given to the Jerusalem Post, as many as 50—as Israel widened its ground offensive, causing hundreds of panicked residents to flee, including a woman in a wheelchair waving a white flag. The ceasefire is in effect until 8:30am Eastern, and will allow emergency workers access to the wounded and dead. Five more bodies are believed to be buried in the rubble of homes.

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The nearly two-week conflict has killed some 380 Palestinians and seven Israelis. After daybreak, dozens of wounded from Shijaiyah were rushed to Gaza City's central Shifa Hospital. Frantic parents carried children bloodied by shrapnel, and the emergency room quickly overflowed, forcing doctors to treat some patients on mattresses in a hallway. "The gate of hell has opened, and shrapnel came through the windows," said Shijaiyah resident Jawad Hassanain, speaking by phone. "The house shook. From 12:30am until 4am, all you could hear is heavy bombardment, the smell of fire and the smell of death. By 4:30, and after the call for the prayer, we were able to get in an ambulance," which took them to his sister's neighborhood, he said. (Read more Israel stories.)

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