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Thursday, April 19, 2018, 

Israel, Hamas begin five-day Gaza truce

Cairo, 14 August 2014 (MIA) - Israel and the Islamist militant group Hamas have agreed a new five-day truce in the Gaza Strip. Despite a shaky start, a few hours after it came into force, the latest ceasefire appeared to be holding, Deutsche Welle reports.

The latest truce between the two sides appeared to be in jeopardy just as it was about to take effect at midnight local time. Shortly before the previous 3-day truce was set to expire, Palestinian militants reportedly fired several rockets at Israel, which the Israel Defense Forces responded to with airstrikes. No casualties were reported on either side.

Hamas, though, stressed that it was not responsible for the latest rocket attacks on the Jewish state.

"Hamas denies firing any rocket at the occupation this evening," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.

The agreement to extend the ceasefire for a further five day was announced by the Egyptian foreign ministry, which has been facilitating indirect negotiations between the two sides, and the head of the Palestinian delegation, Azzam al-Ahmad.

There was no immediate comment on the deal from the Israeli side.

Egypt had pushed for the extension in order to give the two sides more time to forge a deal to stop the fighting in the Gaza Strip on a more permanent basis. Ahmad said that while the two sides had made "significant progress towards an agreement on a longer-lasting truce, several bones of contention remained, including the details of security arrangements and reconstruction efforts for Gaza.

Hamas is seeking an end to a blockade on Gaza, imposed by Israel in 2007, which has crippled the coastal territory's economy and severely limited the freedom of movement for its 1.8 million Palestinian residents.

Israel launched its military offensive on July 8 aimed at stopping militant rocket attacks on the Jewish state. More than 1,900 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed in the fighting. On the Israeli side 64 soldiers and three civilians have died. ik/9:03

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