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5 Aug, 2014 06:08

3-day ceasefire between Israel and Palestinians takes effect

3-day ceasefire between Israel and Palestinians takes effect

An Egypt-mediated truce between Israel and the Palestinian factions in Gaza has begun Tuesday morning minutes after an exchange of cross-border fire.

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The ceasefire, that is supposed to see hostilities halted for 72 hours to allow for peace talks in Cairo, started at 05:00 GMT.

Just minutes before that, air raid sirens sounded across southern Israel and an area east of Jerusalem. No injuries or casualties have been reported in the attack, for which Hamas claimed responsibility.

The IDF reportedly responded with artillery fire.

However, the exchange of fire stopped just before the negotiated beginning of the truce.

A military spokesman earlier announced that all Israeli ground forces were to withdraw from Gaza before the start of the ceasefire.

"The Israeli Defense Forces will be redeployed in defensive positions outside the Gaza Strip and we will maintain those defensive positions," Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner told reporters.

The truce, brokered by Egyptian mediators, comes after several failed attempts to halt hostilities in Gaza.

"This is all I have left" a man said holding 6 chickens who miraculously survived the bombings &street fights #Gazapic.twitter.com/sBpM3TM3NR

— Bel Trew - بل ترو (@Beltrew) August 5, 2014

"Egypt has received very strong indicators on the acceptance by all parties of a 72-hour ceasefire starting at 05:00 GMT," an Egyptian diplomatic source said, according to Reuters.

"We hope this will secure a permanent ceasefire and restore stability," Egypt's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Israelis and Palestinians to observe the 72-hour ceasefire on Tuesday and to exercise maximum restraint. Earlier, the UN said it will use the temporary ceasefire to restock supplies at schools and other shelters for about 270,000 displaced Palestinians.

Some 1,834 Palestinians have perished in Israeli strikes and in fighting, most of them civilians, Gaza officials have said. Israel says 64 of its soldiers and three civilians have been killed since July 8, when the military operation started on the grounds of surge in cross-border rocket salvos from Gaza.