A three-day cease-fire in the Gaza Strip went into effect Friday, with talks set to get underway in Cairo, Egypt. The conflict has seen more than 1,450 Palestinians lose their lives, along with sixty-one Israeli soldiers and two Israeli civilians.
The ceasefire, announced by the US and the UN hours earlier, took effect at 8:00am (0500 GMT) Friday. US Secretary of State John Kerry cautioned there were “no guarantees” that the lull would bring an end to the Gaza war, now in its fourth week.
Israel and Hamas both said they would respect the ceasefire, but would respond to attacks.
Reporting from Israel, FRANCE 24’s Chris Moore said,“I should point out that both sides are aware that 8am is perhaps not an exact deadline. In the last Israel-Gaza conflict when a full ceasefire was achieved, there was still fire going in both directions after that. It’s still very much a case of wait and see how things pan out over the next few hours.”
At least four short humanitarian ceasefires have been announced since the conflict began, but each has been broken within a few hours by renewed fighting.
This truce will give civilians the opportunity to bury their dead, care for the injured, and fix water and energy structures and seek out food and water.
“Fruit and vegetables are not being cultivated so food insecurity is growing,” said FRANCE 24’s Gallagher Fenwick reporting from Gaza.
Talks in Cairo
During the ceasefire, Egypt will also host indirect talks in Cairo between Israel and a Palestinian delegation including representatives of Hamas in the hopes of achieving a more durable truce.
Hours before the ceasefire was to take effect, 17 Palestinians were killed in Israeli strikes, including 10 people from the same family, said Ashraf al-Kidra, a Gaza health official. He said the family members were killed in an airstrike on their home in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis.
Israel’s military said five of its soldiers were killed along the Gaza border Thursday evening when a mortar round was fired at them.
More than 1,450 Palestinians have been killed since hostilities began on July 8, according to Palestinian officials. Israel says 61 of its soldiers and three civilians in Israel have been killed.
In the hours before the ceasefire took effect Friday, Gaza police reported heavy Israeli tank shelling in northern and eastern Gaza, and the loud exchange of fire between Israeli troops and militants was audible throughout Gaza City. Tank shells landed on homes in the city, setting homes and shops ablaze.
Hamas fighters hit an Israeli tank with an anti-tank missile, Gaza police said, and then attacked Israeli troops who came to evacuate the tank crew. Clashes continued into the early morning hours, police said.
The Israeli military said it was looking into the matter.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AP)
Date created : 2014-08-01