Saturday, July 26, 2014

12-hour ceasefire comes into force between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip

12-hour ceasefire comes into force between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza StripA 12-hour ceasefire came into force between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip at 8am (05:00 GMT) on Saturday, the 19th day of a conflict that has killed at least 900 people.

Israel and the Palestinian armed group said they would observe the temporary UN-mediated ceasefire, after US Secretary of State John Kerry was unable to reach a lasting truce during talks on Friday in Cairo.

A few minutes into the scheduled start of the ceasefire, Al Jazeera's Nicole Johnston, reporting from Gaza, said it is still difficult to know if the fighting has stopped in all parts of the Gaza Strip.

"Sometimes it does continue in pockets for a little while. It may take some time for the ceasefire to completely come into effect," she said.

In the lead-up to the ceasefire, our correspondent said the battles were "incredibly heavy" Saturday overnight.

"Rockets have been fired from Gaza. I heard constant sounds of shelling from the Israeli navy ships that are positioned just off the coast," she said.

At least 10 houses in Gaza were reportedly struck by Israeli aircraft overnight, she said, including in the town of Khan Younis, where at least 20 people died.

"Ahead of the ceasefire, it was a very difficult night for the people of Gaza", Al Jazeera's Johnston said.
The announcement of the truce came just hours after Israel's cabinet rejected the terms of a US-sponsored longer-lasting ceasefire that was meant to end the fighting.

Diplomatic push

Speaking in Egypt, Kerry confirmed the rejection but said diplomats were still trying to work out a deal.

"We still have terminology and context to work through, but we are confident we have a framework that will work, and we will continue to work for that ... none of us here are stopping."

Kerry met Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary-general, in Cairo on Friday, and spoke by telephone to his Qatari and Turkish counterparts.

He will fly to Paris on Saturday for another conference on Gaza.

Israel has already indicated it plans to step up its incursion into the Palestinian territory.

Gaza's Health Ministry has said that 870 Palestinians have been killed since Israel's assault on Gaza began on July 8. More than 5,740 have been injured.

Rockets fired from Gaza into Israel have killed two Israeli civilians and a Thai migrant worker. A total of 35 Israeli soldiers have died in Gaza.

The growing casualties in Gaza have caused anger in the West Bank, prompting two days of mass protests in several cities and ensuing clashes with the Israeli police that killed at least nine Palestinians.

Al Jazeera's Imtiaz Tyab, reporting from the West Bank, said Israeli forces used live rounds and tear gas to disperse protesters.

"In Hebron, 16 people were been injured after Israeli forces opened live fire on protesters. In Jenin, 14 people were hurt, most suffering gunshot wounds," he said.

"In Bethlehem, five were injured, one reportedly critically after being shot in the chest."

Al Jazeera and Agencies

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