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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Israel eased its assaults in the Gaza Strip and Palestinian rocket fire from the enclave declined sharply on Monday, the military said, with both the United States and United Nations calling for a durable cease-fire. As international pressure mounted to end a 21-day conflict in which more than 1,000 people have been killed, an Israeli military official said the army would only fire in response to attacks, adding that this would be for an "unlimited" period. However, Israeli troops continued to hunt and destroy cross-border militant tunnels inside Gaza.
Hamas said on Sunday it wanted a 24-hour truce to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which started on Monday. In the hours after its announcement, Gaza gradually fell quiet. Just one rocket was fired out of the battered coastal territory at the Israeli city of Ashkelon in the first nine hours of Monday, the military said. Gaza residents reported brief bursts of tank shelling and no casualties. "This cease-fire or abatement is dynamic on the ground. If we need to, we will respond," Israeli Brigadier General Motti Almoz said. President Barack Obama on Sunday urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to hold fire unconditionally, while the U.N. Security Council agreed a statement that called on both sides to implement a humanitarian truce that stretched beyond Eid.
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