Monday, August 11, 2014 10:21 pm
A semblance of normal life returned to Gaza on Monday as a 72-hour truce took hold and negotiators sat down in Cairo to seek a permanent end to hostilities.
Quiet returned to the enclave following days of Egyptian-brokered mediation to stem violence which has killed 1,940 Palestinians and 67 on the Israeli side since July 8.
With no reports of violations on either side since midnight on Sunday, shops and businesses started to reopen and people ventured onto the streets of the war-torn coastal enclave which is home to 1.8 million Palestinians.
Outside a UN-run school, a clutch of cars and donkey carts waited to take some refugees back to homes they had fled during the month of fighting.
“We want to go back to see what happened to our house,” said Hikmat Atta, 58, who piled his family into a small cart to visit their home in the northern town of Beit Lahiya.
But with the second truce in a week still in its early stages, he was not taking any chances.
“We’re just going back for the day, at night we’ll come back here,” he told AFP.
Palestinian emergency services said that a one-month-old baby girl died on Monday of injuries sustained during the fighting, raising the overall death toll in Gaza to 1,940.
– Shuttle diplomacy –
In Cairo, Egyptian intelligence mediators threw themselves back into shuttle diplomacy that unravelled after rocket attacks breached the previous 72-hour truce on Friday.
They spent Monday locked in talks with the Palestinian delegation and were to relay their demands to Israeli negotiators, who returned to Cairo three days after abandoning the talks when Palestinian rocket attacks resumed on southern Israel.
Egypt has urged the warring sides to use the new lull to reach “a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire,” after efforts to extend a similar truce last week collapsed into a firestorm of violence.
Israel insists that the security of millions of its citizens subject to constant fear from Palestinian rocket attacks be guaranteed.
Hamas, the de facto power in Gaza, has conditioned its acceptance of any permanent agreement on Israel lifting its eight-year blockade on the enclave.