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Ceasefire agreed after 2,200 killed in Gaza

Israel and Hamas have agreed to an open-ended ceasefire, halting a seven-week war that killed more than 2,200 people, left tens of thousands in Gaza homeless and devastated entire neighbourhoods in the blockaded territory.

Hamas declared victory and bursts of celebratory gunfire erupted across Gaza, but the terms of the deal fell far short of Hamas's demand that Israel and Egypt open Gaza's borders.

Under the Egyptian-brokered deal, Israel is to ease restrictions on imports into Gaza, including aid and material for reconstruction. It also allows Palestinians to fish six nautical miles offshore, up from three miles.

In a month, the ceasefire calls for talks to begin in Cairo on more complex issues, including building a seaport and airport in Gaza, and Israel's demand that Hamas disarm.

However, the agreement appeared to contain no major Israeli concessions and previous understandings after a round of fighting in 2012 quickly dissipated.

Previous ceasefire deals have collapsed since the war began on July 8, and it was not clear if this one would hold. The truce took effect at 7pm local time, but violence persisted until the last minute.

In Israel, mortar shells fired from Gaza killed one man and seriously wounded two people, authorities said.

In Gaza, police reported that an Israeli air strike 13 minutes before the ceasefire began collapsed a five-storey building in the town of Beit Lahiya. Booms from Israeli strikes could be heard in Gaza after the truce announcement was made.

hnews@herald.ie


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