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Gaza ceasefire takes effect after five days of deadly fighting

On Sunday, the Gaza Strip declared a cease-fire, drawing people back into the streets after five days of cross-border fighting that killed at least 34 Palestinians and one Israeli.

The truce got off to a rocky start after a salvo of fire in the final 30 minutes before the scheduled deadline.

AFP correspondents in Gaza reported that dozens of missiles were launched from Gaza into Israel, prompting further air strikes.

Egypt brokered the most recent truce, claiming consent from both Israel and the Palestinians.

“Israel’s National Security Adviser Tsahi Hanegbi… thanked Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and expressed the State of Israel’s appreciation for Egypt’s vigorous efforts to achieve a ceasefire,” the Israeli prime minister’s office said in a statement.

‘What exactly have we done?’

For days, life in Gaza and other Israeli communities has been a daily pattern of air strikes and sirens warning of imminent rocket fire.

As the fighting raged, residents in the cramped Gaza Strip huddled indoors, with streets deserted and only a few businesses and pharmacies open.

“The Palestinian people as a whole are suffering,” Muhammad Muhanna, 58, told AFP from the rubble of his home. “What exactly have we done?”

A dead donkey lies in the debris of a row of buildings demolished by an Israeli strike in Deir al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip.

“No one is safe in their homes,” Imad Rayan, 64, said.

According to a spokesman for the Gaza Interior Ministry, the Israeli military focused on “targeting civilians, residential and civilian buildings” on the final day of its campaign.

There had been rising calls for a cease-fire, notably from Israel’s closest friend, the US.

The White House applauded the accord and praised Egypt and Qatar for their involvement in defusing tensions.

Despite failures, Egypt maintained its mediation efforts.

Shrapnel from a rocket fired from Gaza hit a construction site in Sdot Negev, close across the border into Israel, on Saturday, killing one man and injuring another. They were both day laborers from Gaza.

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