Israel announces daily Gaza 'pause' for aid deliveries

Israel's military said Sunday it would "pause" fighting around a south Gaza route daily to facilitate aid deliveries, following months of warnings of famine in the besieged Palestinian territory.

The announcement of a "local, tactical pause of military activity" during daylight hours in an area of Rafah came a day after eight Israeli soldiers were killed in a blast near the far-southern city and three more troops died elsewhere, in one of the heaviest losses for the army in its war against Hamas militants.

U.N. agencies and aid groups have repeatedly sounded the alarm of dire shortages of food and other essentials in the Gaza Strip, exacerbated by overland access restrictions and the closure of the key Rafah crossing with Egypt since Israeli forces seized it in early May.

Israel has long defended its efforts to let aid into Gaza including via its Kerem Shalom border near Rafah, blaming militants for looting supplies and humanitarian workers for failing to distribute them to civilians.

"A local, tactical pause of military activity for humanitarian purposes will take place from 8:00 am (05:00 GMT) until 7:00 pm (16:00 GMT) every day until further notice along the road that leads from the Kerem Shalom crossing to the Salah al-Din road and then northwards," a military statement said.

A map released by the army showed the declared humanitarian route extending until Rafah's European Hospital, about 10 kilometres (six miles) from Kerem Shalom.

AFP correspondents in Gaza said there were no reports of strikes, shelling or fighting on Sunday morning, though the military stressed in a statement there was "no cessation of hostilities in the southern Gaza Strip".

The decision, which the military said was already in effect, was...

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