JERUSALEM, July 16 (UPI) -- Israel announced a cessation of bombing Gaza Wednesday, saying it will conduct a five-hour truce on Thursday.
Israeli Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, in a BBC interview Wednesday, referred to it as a "humanitarian cease-fire," adding Gaza civilians could use the time to obtain food and supplies.
Hamas militants in Gaza and the Israel Defense Forces are in the ninth day of air strikes against one another. Rockets and missiles are regularly fired across the border, and up to 40,000 Israeli troops have massed at the border, awaiting orders to begin a ground war.
A previous cease-fire, which Egypt brokered, lasted only six hours.
The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza said 213 people have been killed in the attacks in Gaza. Most are civilians, the United Nations noted. Israel has acknowledged only one death, to a civilian, by Hamas mortar fire.