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Israel resumes Gaza strikes after cease-fire lull

By Peter Enav

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Aug. 4 2014 10:49 a.m. MDT

Updated: Monday, Aug. 4 2014 10:49 a.m. MDT

A Palestinian walks on the rubble of his family apartment in a building which was destroyed after it was hit by an Israeli strikes in Beit Lahiya, the northern Gaza Strip, Monday, Aug. 4, 2014. A brief cease-fire declared by Israel and troop withdrawals slowed violence in the Gaza war Monday, but an attack an Israeli bus that killed one person in Jerusalem underscored the tensions still simmering in the region as Israeli airstrikes resumed late in the day.

Adel Hana, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — A brief cease-fire declared by Israel and troop withdrawals slowed violence in the Gaza war Monday, but an attack an Israeli bus that killed one person in Jerusalem underscored the tensions still simmering in the region as Israeli airstrikes resumed late in the day.

Several cease-fires have broken down during the 3½-week war — including Friday when an internationally negotiated truce collapsed amid violence and mutual recrimination between Israel and Hamas.

But with Hamas rocket fire tapering off over the last 24 hours and Israel's ground operation in Gaza winding down, violence in a war that officials say has killed more than 1,880 Palestinians and over 60 Israelis appeared — for the moment — appeared to be waning.

The lull was broken by the Jerusalem assault, which saw a man ram the front end of a construction excavator into an Israeli bus. Police described the incident as a "terrorist attack," indicating Palestinian involvement.

The attack occurred on a main thoroughfare near Jerusalem's light-rail line. The area is located near the unofficial line between Jewish West Jerusalem and east Jerusalem, the section of the city captured by Israel in 1967 and which is home to most of the city's Arab population. Israeli media said the attacker came from an Arab area of the city.

Israel's Channel 10 TV showed cellphone video of what it said was the attack, with the yellow excavator slamming its large shovel into the bus. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said a police officer in the area opened fire and killed the attacker. A pedestrian also was killed, said Jerusalem district police chief Yossi Piranti.

In the past, Palestinian attackers have gone on deadly rampages with bulldozers in Jerusalem traffic.

"Because of the quick reaction of the police an even graver incident was avoided," Piranti said.

Shortly after the excavator attack, Israeli media reported that a gunman on a motorcycle shot and seriously wounded an Israeli soldier. Police searched for the shooter in east Jerusalem.

"We believe there is a great likelihood this was a terrorist attack," Piranti said.

Before the attacks, a seven-hour Israeli cease-fire in Gaza went into effect. And while Israel continued hitting at selected Palestinian targets, the level of the fighting was much lower than in previous days.

However, the Israeli military said the cease-fire would not apply to areas where troops were still operating and where they would respond to any attack. The southern strip town of Rafah, which saw heavy fighting Sunday, was excluded from the truce, the military said.

Israel said it declared the temporary cease-fire to allow humanitarian aid to enter Gaza, which has been ravaged by the nearly monthlong war.

Late Monday, Israel announced a resumption of attacks on targets in Gaza. Palestinian health official Ashraf al-Kidra said an airstrike near a desalination plant in Rafah killed three people, including a 12-year-old boy and his 5-year-old sister.

Earlier, an Israeli strike hit a house at the Shati refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, killing three people and wounding at least 30, Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra said. The Israeli military said it targeted an "operative threat" and rocket fire in the strike "around 10 a.m."

A separate Israeli strike killed Daniel Mansour, a commander in the Islamic Jihad group — a close ally of Gaza's militant Palestinian Hamas rulers, the group said.

Meanwhile, the British Foreign Office said it was "urgently investigating" claims that a British aid worker had been killed in the Gaza town of Rafah. It declined to comment further.

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