gazaA five-hour ceasefire came into effect Thursday at 10 a.m. between Israel and the Islamic Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip on a request of the UN even as the toll in Gaza due to Israeli air strikes touched 227.

The ceasefire will enable humanitarian aid into the coastal enclave.

Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas movement’s spokesman in Gaza, said in a press statement that after consulting with various Palestinian factions and political powers, the UN request for a five-hour ceasefire was accepted.

A Hamas official said on condition of anonymity that his movement and other Palestinian factions agreed to halt rocket fire into Israel for five hours in response to a proposal by the UN, Xinhua reported.

“But we will respond to any Israeli attacks on Gaza during the pause,” the official said.

It is the first pause in fighting since Israel and Hamas fighters engaged in fierce cross-border violence since July 8.

The temporary ceasefire was made as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and top Hamas leaders, all currently in Cairo, are trying to negotiate with Egypt a permanent ceasefire proposal.

Robert Serry, the envoy of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the Middle East, said in an emailed press statement that the ceasefire in Gaza “is a humanitarian issue trying to help the Gaza population.

“It is so important to see the ceasefire achieved successfully and I hope that a ceasefire will be permanent and all humanitarian issues and problems are solved in the Gaza Strip as soon as possible,” said Serry.

As soon as the ceasefire came into effect in the Gaza Strip, thousands of people went out from their homes for shopping, and there was busy traffic on the main streets of the coastal enclave.

Earlier, ahead of the truce, Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip Thursday killed five more Palestinians, including an old man, taking the toll to 227.

Ashraf al-Qedra, spokesman of Gaza health ministry, told reporters that five Palestinians were killed in Israeli air strikes on Gaza city, central and southern Gaza Strip, and more than five others were injured.

He said the toll since the beginning of the Israeli large-scale offensive on the Gaza Strip July 8 has climbed to 227 while 1,685 people have been injured, more than half of them civilian women and children.

Explosions and the buzz of war jets and drones were heard all over the Gaza Strip, while Hamas militants claimed responsibility for firing more than 10 rockets into central Israeli cities and towns.



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