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72-hour Gaza ceasefire takes effect

Aug. 11, 2014 12:20 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 11, 2014 11:10 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A 72-hour ceasefire brokered by Egypt went into effect at midnight Monday, hours after Israeli bombings killed four Palestinians and armed groups fired rockets toward Israel.

Palestinian factions agreed on the new 72-hour halt to hostilities in Cairo.

Officials said that during the three-day ceasefire, there will be extensive negotiations to reach a more lasting truce.

Meanwhile, humanitarian aid is expected to flow through Gaza crossings.

A Palestinian source in Cairo told AFP that the Egyptian mediators had received "simultaneous consensus" from both the Israeli and Palestinian side.

In order to reach a lasting truce in Gaza, Palestinians have demanded Israel end its eight-year siege on the Strip, release dozens of prisoners whom Israel has re-arrested that were released in 2011 as part of the Shalit exchange, re-open a seaport and airport in Gaza, and create a safe passage between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Egypt, for its part, insisted on a lifting of Israel's blockade on Gaza.

"This siege should be lifted in accordance to Israel's responsibilities as an occupation force," the foreign ministry in Cairo said in a statement.

Four weeks of bloody fighting have killed more than 1,917 Palestinians and 67 people on the Israeli side, most of them soldiers.

The UN says around three quarters of those killed in Gaza were civilians, around a third of them children.

On the ground, Gazans endured yet another day of fear Sunday as the air force hit dozens of targets, killing four Palestinians only hours before the ceasefire went into effect.

Militants also launched dozens of rockets over the border.

AFP contributed to this report
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