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Signs of life in Gaza as 72-hour ceasefire goes into effect

Aug. 11, 2014 11:09 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 12, 2014 3:16 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Shops opened and traffic returned to the streets on Monday as Gazans took advantage of a 72-hour ceasefire arrangement.

Banks in the besieged territory have scheduled to open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. as signs of normal life returned.

Thousands of Gazans who were displaced from border areas such as Shujaiyya, Beit Lahiya, Beit Hanoun and Rafah began to return to their neighborhoods to check if their homes were still standing, and to salvage their belongings.

Outside a UN-run school, a clutch of cars and donkey carts waited to take some of the refugees back to homes they had fled during the fighting.

"We want to go back to see what happened to our house," said Hikmat Atta, 58, who had piled his family into a small cart and was heading back to his home in the northern town of Beit Lahiya which they had left in the first days of the war.

But with the truce still in its early stages, he was not taking any chances.

"We're just going back for the day, at night we'll come back here," he told AFP.

Rescue and medical services took advantage of the ceasefire to continue the search for dead bodies under the rubble of buildings destroyed by Israeli airstrikes and shelling.

Gaza's Ministry of Interior urged residents to be on high alert during the ceasefire.

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.

AFP contributed to this report
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