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Calm prevails in Gaza after brief flare up

Posted on Aug 14 2014 | IANS

Cairo/Jerusalem, Aug 14 : Calm prevailed in Gaza Thursday as a new five-day truce agreed upon between Israel and Palestinian militias took effect after a brief outbreak of hostilities overnight in which no casualties were reported.

The ceasefire was announced at the end of a three-day truce to allow peace talks brokered by Egypt to take place between the two sides in Cairo.

But soon after Israel said it had responded to the alleged firing of eight rockets from Gaza against its territory.

The Palestinian movement Hamas that rules Gaza denied the claim and accused Israel of a "serious and unjustified breach" of the truce.

The al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, announced in a video released Thursday it would continue manufacturing rockets with a range of more than 75 km, capable of reaching Israeli territory.

The Palestinian delegation in Cairo is set to leave Egypt Thursday for consultations and return to resume talks within the next week, according to sources.

Meanwhile, Israeli sources said the cabinet would hold a session Thursday evening to assess the negotiations in Egypt after announcing the extension of the ceasefire for five more days.

According to an earlier report Thursday, two hours before the earlier ceasefire was due to end, air raid sirens sounded once again in Israel after several rockets were launched from Gaza by Palestinian militants.

The Israelis reported that two rockets had fallen in the vicinity of Ashkelon, a town near the Gaza Strip, a couple of hours before midnight but Hamas quickly said that it had not launched the missiles.

Later, in a brief communique, the Israeli armed forces said that two more rockets launched from Gaza had fallen in the area of Eshkol.

There have been no reports of Israeli casualties.

An official with the Palestinian negotiating team told Efe new agency that the two sides, despite the fact that they are not engaging in face-to-face talks in Cairo but rather are speaking through mediators, had been able to resolve several points, but some of the matters under discussion will require more time before their respective stances can be reconciled.

Israel launched its Operation Protective Edge July 8, which has so far claimed the lives of at least 1,938 Palestinians, mostly civilians, according to Palestinian health officials.

In Israel, 64 soldiers and three civilians were killed, according to Israeli military and police.

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