72-hour humanitarian truce begins in Gaza
A 72-hour humanitarian truce brokered by Egypt between Israel and Palestine went into effect Tuesday in the Gaza Strip.
The start of the truce at 8.00 a.m was preceded by a barrage of rockets from Gaza, with air raids sirens howling throughout southern Israel, including in the cities of Ashdod, Ashkelon and Beersheba, as well as Jerusalem, Al Jazeera reported.
In the minutes before the truce, Israel launched air strikes on Gaza City and on southern and central parts of the Palestinian territory in response to the rockets.
Just before the truce came into effect, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) announced the withdrawal of all of its troops to "defensive positions" outside the Gaza Strip.
An IDF officer said that Israeli forces left Gaza before the start of the truce
Delegates from both sides had approved the truce late Monday in a round of phone calls.
During the 72 hours, an Israeli delegation is scheduled to arrive in Cairo to negotiate with the Palestinians.
Cairo is currently hosting a united delegation of various Palestinian factions, including Fatah, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, for talks on the Egyptian bid for a truce in Gaza.
The negotiations would focus on the Palestinian demand to remove the siege from the Gaza Strip, and to release 56 Hamas prisoners that Israel incarcerated following an operation in the West Bank in June after the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teens.
Israel's ongoing offensive on Gaza, which started on July 8, has killed 1,820 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and over 10,000 injured, while Hamas attacks have also killed 64 Israeli soldiers and three civilians in the past four weeks.
(Posted on 05-08-2014)