Thursday, 14 August 2014

New Gaza truce holding after shaky start


GAZA CITY (AFP) -- Israel and Gaza fighters were holding their fire Thursday morning after a new truce got off to a shaky start, with night-time rocket fire followed by Israeli air strikes.

The Israeli army said that there had been no fighting for several hours, since Israeli air raids into Gaza finished around 3 a.m.

Palestinians had fired two rockets into southern Israel two hours earlier, after a five-day ceasefire extension was to have taken effect.

An army spokeswoman said that aircraft hit rocket-launching sites, weapons caches and "centers of terrorist activity" but could not give a precise number.

An official at the Palestinian interior ministry reported four air strikes over open ground about 30 minutes after an existing 72-hour truce was extended at midnight for another five days.

More than 1,950 Palestinians and 67 people on the Israeli side have been killed since July 8, when Israel launched its offensive.

After days of shuttle diplomacy, the agreement clinched by Egypt ushered in what is potentially the longest period of calm in the five-week conflict and will allow more time for talks on the thorniest issues that separate the two sides, the Palestinians said.

An earlier truce collapsed in a firestorm of violence on August 8.

Palestinian negotiator Azzam al-Ahmad said in Cairo that more time was needed to discuss "some" remaining disputes with Israel over a long-term truce. more

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