Hamas agrees to five-hour Gaza ceasefire

Gaza City (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) - Hamas on Thursday agreed to join a temporary Gaza ceasefire requested by the United Nations on humanitarian grounds.

"The group agrees to a ceasefire for five hours," starting from 10:00 am (0700 GMT) Thursday, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zukhri said in a statement.

Earlier the Israeli military said it had accepted a UN request to halt its attacks on the Gaza Strip in what a senior United Nations official called a "humanitarian pause".

"Between 10:00 and 15:00 (0700-1200 GMT), the Israel Defence Forces will cease operational activity within the Gaza Strip and hold its fire," an army statement said.

Abu Zukhri said the same.

"The Palestinian factions agreed to accept the offer from the United Nations for a cooling-down on the ground for five hours starting from 10 in the morning," he told AFP.

"It is in the interest of all the citizens of Gaza, in order to give them a chance to go to the hospital, get health care or get food," UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Robert Serry, told Israel's Channel Two television on Wednesday evening.