Israel pulls its ground forces out of the Gaza Strip and begins 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. Sarah Toms reports.
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Just minutes before a ceasefire begins more destruction in the Middle East.
This time in the occupied West Bank.
A salvo of rockets is launched from Gaza. Hamas militants say it's revenge for Israel's "massacres". There were no reports of casualties but one hits this Palestinian house near Bethlehem.
(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) OWNER OF HOUSE ELIAS JUBRAN, SAYING:
"We were at home asleep, when we heard a loud explosion that shook all the houses, three floors and my brothers' houses on the other side, the windows and other things broke."
Despite the attacks Israel has pulled its troops from the Gaza Strip.
The army says its close to destroying a network of cross border tunnels it believes is used by Hamas to conduct raids inside the country.
And now Israel says its safe for Palestinians to return to their neighbourhoods.
A quarter of the population have fled their houses to escape the fighting.
It's a chance to return home and stock up on supplies.
But many are too scared to leave these UN shelters here in Gaza, as they're afraid they'll die in Israeli shelling.
(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) MAN SEEKING SHELTER IN U.N. SCHOOL, HANI SHALAH, SAYING:
"We have to wait a bit because they said there was a ceasefire before but the sides did not abide by it. So we have to be patient, but hopefully nothing happens and no one breaks the truce so we could be safe."
This latest truce has been brokered by Egypt. It's not an end to the fighting, it's just a three day cease fire...but it's the first step towards negotiations that could lead to a more enduring end to the month-long conflict.
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