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Islamic Jihad accuses Israel of reneging on Gaza truce terms

Supporters of the Islamic Jihad group rally in Yarmuk refugee camp on the outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus to pay tribute to their fighters killed in the last round of fighting between Israel and Gaza Strip militants. ©AFP

Gaza City (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) - The leader of Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad in Gaza accused Israel on Thursday of reneging on its commitments under a truce that ended a flare-up earlier this month.

The televised remarks of Ziad al-Nakhala came as the armed group held simultaneous rallies in the Gaza Strip, Damascus and Beirut, weeks after three days of violence that ended in the Egyptian-brokered truce.

"The enemy is still evading the commitments it made to our brothers in Egypt," Nakhala said.

"The enemy government must bear full responsibility for that," he said, referring to the Jewish state.

Israel said its air strikes launched August 5 on positions of the Iran-backed Islamic Jihad in Gaza were a "pre-emptive" operation to avert an imminent attack.

In response, Islamic Jihad fired more than 1,000 rockets -- but many of them either hit farmland or were intercepted by Israel's air defence system.

In the Gaza Strip, according to the enclave's health ministry, 49 Palestinians were killed, 17 of them children, and more than 350 wounded.

In Israel, shrapnel wounded three people.

After the truce took effect, the Islamic Jihad said it contained an Egyptian commitment to work towards the release of two prisoners -- Bassem al-Saadi, a senior figure in the group's political wing, and militant Khalil Awawdeh.

Saadi, who was arrested on August 1 in the occupied West Bank, was charged in an Israeli military court with affiliation with the Islamic Jihad, as well as "incitement and aiding contact with enemy elements", the army said on Thursday.

According to the army, Saadi received Jihad funding from Gaza and had called for Palestinian attacks on Israelis.

Awawdeh, from the southern West Bank, has been held without charge by Israel since December and been refusing food since March, apart from a brief period of a few days.

The 40-year-old, held in custody in an Israeli hospital, is said to be in critical condition and his life in danger.

Israel's supreme court on Sunday rejected an appeal to release him from custody on the grounds that the army had agreed to freeze his administrative detention while he remains hospitalised. 

Awawdeh has vowed to keep up the protest fast until his detention is revoked.

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