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Combat May Escalate In Gaza, Israel Warns

Abbas said both Hamas and Israel bear responsibility for the conflict, but he singled out Israel as responsible for hundreds of civilian casualties. "If Israel doesn't want to accept," he said of the cease-fire plan, "it will take the responsibility of perpetuating a waterfall of blood."

Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007 after a bloody battle with Abbas's Fatah party, which was kicked out but still controls the West Bank.

The exiled leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, said the Islamist movement would not give up or agree to a cease-fire until Israel withdrew and reopened border crossings into Gaza. Israel has imposed an economic blockade on Gaza since Hamas came to power.

In a televised speech from Damascus, the Syrian capital, Meshaal called the war a "holocaust" and said, "Let the aggression stop first, let the crossings open, and then people can look into the issue of calm."

Israel dismissed the Security Council resolution Friday, calling the plan "unworkable" because it lacked any guarantee that Hamas would stop firing rockets.

Meanwhile, with food increasingly scarce and electricity shortages widespread, Gazans struggled to endure.

In Gaza City, the owners of a bakery, the Extra Baguette, decided to share access to their still-functioning generator. They installed several small electric ovens on the sidewalk and invited passersby to bake their own bread, if they had their own ingredients.

In the Shati camp, another baker, Zuhair Abu al-Arraj, opened his house to a steady stream of neighbors looking for a place to cook. Arraj did not have electricity, but he did have a clay oven, which he powered with cardboard refuse and paper trash collected from the streets.

"Give me more, give me more," he said, sticking his hands out to two women who had brought baskets of dough. Dripping with sweat and sporting bloodshot eyes, Arraj had baked 400 loaves by midafternoon. "The important thing is just to end this suffering," he said.

The Israeli military ordered another three-hour pause in its operations Saturday to enable relief workers to deliver supplies and send ambulances to collect the wounded. But sporadic gunfire and explosions occurred during the lull nevertheless, witnesses said. And humanitarian-aid agencies said they still faced enormous challenges.

The U.N. Relief and Works Agency said the Israeli military refused to allow aid shipments through Gaza's border checkpoints Saturday, saying the crossings were closed for the Sabbath. The U.N. agency had temporarily suspended deliveries Friday after it said two aid workers in a truck convoy had been shot and killed by Israeli forces.

The Israeli military said Saturday that an investigation had found no evidence that its soldiers were involved.

Christopher Gunness, a spokesman for the Relief and Works Agency, said Israel had formally assured the United Nations that its workers were not being targeted.

But he said a lack of trust remained.

"We've had enough expressions of regret," he said. "It's time for Israel to step up to the plate and deliver."

Abdel Kareem reported from Gaza City.


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