As the death toll rises a 12-hour humanitarian cease-fire between Hamas and Israel begins
Gaza (CNN) — A 12-hour humanitarian cease-fire between Israel and Hamas started Saturday morning as diplomats worked to create a longer truce in the conflict that has killed more than 900 people — mostly civilians.
The cease-fire started at 8 a.m. Saturday (1 a.m. ET). If the 12-hour cease-fire holds, Palestinians will be able to move medical supplies into Gaza and move out the injured and some of the dead bodies.
Israel Defense Forces says it will keep working to “locate and neutralize tunnels” being used by militants during the cease-fire and will respond with force if militants target Israeli civilians or soldiers.
A previous cease-fire backed by Egypt fell apart earlier this month.
Palestinian Parliament Member Mustafa Barghouti told CNN that Hamas will comply with the terms of the temporary cease-fire.
“Of course, they will,” Barghouti said Friday on CNN’s The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. “Not only Hamas, but all Palestinians.”
Kerry leads talks in Paris
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other American diplomats are taking the lead in drafting an agreement with Israel and the Palestinians on a one-week humanitarian cease-fire that would start Sunday, several diplomatic sources told CNN on Friday.
CNN Mideast analyst Michael Oren told Blitzer that Israel rejected a seven-day cease-fire proposal because it doesn’t want to give Hamas time to rearm itself.
More talks will take place Saturday in Paris. “We still have some more things to do over the course of … 24 to 48 hours,” Kerry said Friday.
The cease-fire talks are playing out against a backdrop of mounting casualties.
At least 900 people have been killed and more than 5,840 wounded since the start of an Israeli operation on Gaza, Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Ashraf Al Qidra said.
He said 35 people were killed on Saturday alone before the cease-fire started.
An Israeli military representative said two soldiers were killed Friday in Gaza, bring the total number of soldiers killed to 37 since Operation Protective Edge started.
Doctor: ‘We are preparing ourselves for death‘
The bloodshed is pushing hospitals in Gaza to the limit. At South Gaza’s European Hospital, the flood of bloodied children and adults has overwhelmed doctors.
“We sometimes work 20 hours continuous,” Dr. Jamal Abu Hilal said.
Doctors here say they’re sick of stitching up bodies mutilated by shrapnel.
“We feel exhausted. We feel anxious. We feel depressed,” Hilal’s colleague Dr. Shadi said.
In one room, surgeons worked on a child mangled by shrapnel. The rest of the boy’s family was killed.
“Not even one square meter is safe in Gaza strip,” Dr. Hassen al-Masri said.
He, too, is afraid of dying in the conflict. The doctor carries his identification papers with him all the time, even while treating patients — just in case.
“We are preparing ourselves for death.”
Casualties mount in West Bank
The violence has also expanded to the West Bank. At least four Palestinians were killed in outbreaks of violence in several parts of the West Bank, according to medical sources.
A 23-year-old man was shot near Huwara village outside Nablus by Jewish settlers, a doctor at the Rafidia Hospital said. The circumstances of his death are unclear, but it led to clashes between protesters and the Israeli military in which another man was killed, medical sources said.
Two more men were killed during clashes with Israeli troops at a checkpoint north of Hebron in Beir Ummar in the West Bank, according to Palestinian medical sources.
The violent protests came after the U.N. shelter in Gaza was hit, killing 16 people and wounding a couple hundred more — most of them women and children.
Video from the school showed chaos amid pools of blood. There were so many victims than many gurneys included two wounded children.
The bloodshed left the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon exasperated.
“I am telling to the parties — both Israelis and Hamas, Palestinians — that it is morally wrong to kill your own people,” Ban said. The “whole world has been watching, is watching with great concern. You must stop fighting and enter into dialogue.”