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Israel, Palestinians launch new truce

Updated: 2014-08-11 13:59
( Agencies)


Since the previous ceasefire expired, Palestinian rocket and mortar salvoes have focused on Israeli towns and communities near the Gaza frontier in what seemed a strategy of sapping morale without triggering another ground invasion of tiny Gaza.

A month of war has killed 1,910 Palestinians and 67 Israelis while devastating wide tracts of densely populated Gaza.

Gaza hospital officials say the Palestinian death toll has been mainly civilian since the July 8 launch of Israel's military campaign to quell Gaza rocket fire.

Israel has lost 64 soldiers and three civilians, while heavy losses among civilians and the destruction of thousands of homes in Gaza have drawn international condemnation.

The violence of the past three days had also been less intense than at the war's outset, with reduced firing on both sides.

In the talks that convened in Cairo earlier this month, Egypt has been meeting separately with each party, as neither recognizes the other. Hamas rejects Israel's right to exist and Israel shuns Hamas as a terrorist organisation.

Another sticking points in their talks has been Israel's demand for guarantees that Hamas would not use any reconstruction supplies sent to Gaza to build tunnels of the sort Palestinian fighters have used to infiltrate Israel.

Hamas has demanded an end to the economically stifling blockade of the enclave imposed by both Israel and Egypt, which also sees the Islamist movement as a security threat.

Israel has resisted easing access to Gaza, suspecting Hamas could then restock with weapons from abroad.

Israeli tanks and infantry left the enclave on Tuesday after the army said it had completed its main mission of destroying more than 30 tunnels dug by militants for cross-border attacks.

Though Israel's Iron Dome rocket interceptor does not work at such short ranges there have been few casualties in border towns largely because as many as 80 percent of the region's 5,000 residents fled before last week's ceasefire.

Some said on Sunday they would not return to their communities unless rocket fire from Gaza came to a halt, a condition that could raise pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had said one of the war's goals was to restore calm to the area.

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