Israel pulled its ground forces out of the Gaza Strip on Tuesday and began a 72-hour truce with Hamas mediated by Egypt as a first step towards negotiations on a more enduring end to the month-old war. Minutes before the ceasefire started at 8 a.m. (1 a.m. ET), Hamas launched a salvo of rockets, calling them revenge for Israel's "massacres." No injuries were reported.
Israeli armor and infantry withdrew from the Gaza Strip ahead of the truce, with a military spokesman saying their main goal of destroying cross-border infiltration tunnels had been completed. Troops and tanks would be "redeployed in defensive positions outside the Gaza Strip and we will maintain those defensive positions", spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner said, reflecting Israeli readiness to resume fighting if attacked. Gaza officials say the war has killed 1,834 Palestinians, most of them civilians. Israel says 64 of its soldiers and three civilians have been killed since fighting began on July 8. The U.S. State Department welcomed the truce and urged the parties to "respect it completely." Israel was expected to send delegates to join talks in Cairo to cement a longer-term deal during the course of the truce.
First published August 5 2014, 1:22 AM