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Shell fire kills Israeli soldier near Gaza Strip

 An Israeli soldier was killed by shell fire near the Gaza Strip, taking to 43 the number of troops killed since the start of ground operations on July 8.

JERUSALEM: An Israeli soldier was killed by shell fire near the Gaza Strip, taking to 43 the number of troops killed since the start of ground operations on July 8, an army spokeswoman said Sunday.

"The soldier was killed by a shell that was fired from the Gaza Strip at Israeli territory," she said.

The announcement came after Israel extended a lull in its devastating Gaza offensive for another 24 hours until Sunday 2100 GMT.

Hamas however resumed rocket fire, and warned no ceasefire would be valid without the withdrawal of Israeli tanks. About 20 rockets were fired at southern Israel between late Saturday and Sunday morning.

Late Saturday, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, claimed responsibility for rocket attacks on southern Israel and Tel Aviv immediately after the expiration of an initial 12-hour ceasefire both sides had abided by.

Israel's unilateral decision to continue the ceasefire signalled a pause in its assault on Gaza, which has killed more than 1,000 Palestinians in less than three weeks.

Over the same period, 43 Israeli soldiers have died. Three civilians in Israel were also killed.

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