A relative calm prevailed in Gaza on Monday after Israel reduced its assaults in the coastal strip and rocket fire from Hamas also declined considerably even as both the US and the UN called for a durable ceasefire to end the deadly 20-day conflict.
The UN Security Council late last night called for an "immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire" between Israel and Palestine, asking the parties to implement the truce beyond the Muslim holiday of Eid and allow delivery of urgently needed assistance in Gaza with the raging conflict having killed 1,030 Palestinians and 46 Israelis.
An emergency session of the council backed a UN statement calling for a truce over Eid al-Fitr "and beyond". The Security Council endorsed a statement from Rwanda, the current president of the council, calling for a "durable" truce based on an Egyptian initiative - under which a pause in hostilities would lead to substantive talks on the future of Gaza, including the opening of Gaza's border crossings.
Meanwhile, Gaza had its quietest night in weeks after a weekend punctuated by brief truce initiatives offered by both Israel and Hamas, the BBC reported. The Gaza health ministry on Monday revised the number of Palestinian dead down by 30 after some relatives found missing family members.
Israel's military reported a new rocket attack today morning, saying it had hit an open area in southern Israel. It fired back, in its first reported military action since late last evening. An Israeli army spokesman said there were no air strikes on Gaza since last night but that one rocket was fired from Gaza last night and another this morning, and that the army had responded.
He said the army was still in Gaza, targeting the network of cross-border tunnels through which Palestinian militants have been trying to get into Israel.
"This ceasefire or abatement is dynamic on the ground. If we need to, we will respond," Israel's chief military spokesman, Brigadier General Motti Almoz said. US President Barack Obama also phoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and called for an "immediate and unconditional ceasefire".
"The President underscored the US' strong condemnation of Hamas' rocket and tunnel attacks against Israel and reaffirmed Israel's right to defend itself.
"The President also reiterated the US' serious and growing concern about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives, as well as the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza," a White House statement said.