Hamas on Sunday agreed to observe a 24-hour humanitarian truce, as fighting resumed and the two sides wrangled over the terms of a lull the international community hopes can be expanded into a more sustainable truce, AP reported.
Between the rival announcements Palestinian groups fired rockets deep into Israel, prompting Israel to resume its offensive.
Hours later Hamas said it would be willing to abide by a new 24-hour humanitarian truce ahead of the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the truce would go into effect at 2 p.m. (1100 GMT) Sunday. The three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday is expected to begin Monday or Tuesday, depending on the sighting of the new moon.
Israel had offered a 24-hour truce late Saturday, but Hamas -- which has demanded the lifting of the Israeli and Egyptian blockade on Gaza as well as the release of Palestinian prisoners -- rejected it.
Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, an Israeli army spokesman, did not say if Israel would hold its fire during the time requested by Hamas, but said troops would continue demolishing tunnels.
The 20-day war has killed more than 1,100 Palestinians, mainly civilians, according to Palestinian health officials. Israel has lost 43 soldiers.
The 12-hour lull on Saturday -- agreed to by both sides following intense U.S. and UN mediation efforts -- saw Palestinians return to neighborhoods reduced to rubble and allowed medics to collect close to 150 bodies, Palestinian health official Ashraf al-Kidra said.
DIA chief warns: Plot to destroy Hamas will backfire
Meanwhile, a top Pentagon intelligence official warned on Saturday that the destruction of Hamas would only lead to something more dangerous taking its place, as he offered a grim portrait of a period of enduring regional conflict, ABC news reported.
The remarks by Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, the outgoing head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, came as Israeli ministers signaled that a comprehensive deal to end the 20-day-old conflict in the Gaza Strip appeared remote.
“If Hamas were destroyed and gone, we would probably end up with something much worse. The region would end up with something much worse,” Flynn said at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado.
“A worse threat that would come into the sort of ecosystem there … something like ISIS,” he added, referring to the Islamic State, which last month declared an “Islamic caliphate” in territory it controls in Iraq and Syria.