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Gaza truce holds as Palestinians, Israelis count deadly cost

GAZA CITY, PALESTINIA TERRITORIES (AFP) – Calm returned to Gaza yesterday as a fragile ceasefire ending five days of fighting held, leaving Palestinians and Israelis to count the cost of cross-border fire which has killed dozens.

Fishermen took to their boats in the coastal Palestinian enclave, as Gazans emerged from sheltering in their homes amid the fierce exchange of fire.

The fighting which broke out on Tuesday with Israeli strikes on the militant group ceased late on Saturday, following days of truce talks led by Egypt.

As the skies fell silent, residents were left to mourn the 33 people killed in Gaza, as well as the two in Israel – a Palestinian labourer from the territory and an elderly Israeli.

After the ceasefire took effect in Gaza, ambulances and fire trucks drove in convoy.

More than 50 homes were destroyed and around 950 people displaced in Gaza, said the United Nations (UN) citing local officials.

Palestinians shop at a market in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip amid a ceasefire ending five days of deadly fighting between Israel and a Palestinian group. PHOTO: AFP

“We’re on the street, there’s no home for my children or their children,” said Mohammed al-Louh, whose house was destroyed.

“After the ceasefire, we have an ongoing tragedy because of the great scale of the destruction,” his relative said, standing beside the rubble.

Medics said 190 people were wounded in Gaza and 30 in Israel – seven with injuries resulting from Palestinian rocket fire and the rest while heading to shelters.

UN Middle East envoy Tor Wennesland welcomed the truce and said he was “deeply saddened by the loss of life and injuries”.

The move also paved the way for supplies of medicine, food and fuel to reach Gaza.

While Israel and the militant group committed to the ceasefire, both warned they would not hesitate to resume fire if the other side violated the agreement.

A militant spokesman Tariq Salmi, said if Israel “commits any foolish act or any assassination… the resistance will resume where it left off”.

But as calm returned in Gaza, clashes persisted in the occupied West Bank.

Israeli forces raided central Nablus early on Sunday, sparking clashes with Palestinian residents, according to an AFP photographer.

An army statement said troops had arrested two people suspected of shooting at soldiers in the West Bank, which has been occupied by Israel since the 1967 Six-Day War. At least six children and multiple civilians were also among the dead in Gaza, which is ruled by the group Hamas.

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