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Israel, Hamas begin observing five-hour Gaza ceasefire


Palestinian boys salvage belongings from a damaged home, which police said was targeted in an Israeli air strike, in Gaza City July 17, 2014. Photo - Reuters

Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas were observing a temporary five-hour humanitarian ceasefire on Thursday, both sides said, on the 10th day of conflict between the sides.

"We are holding our fire until 3:00 pm (1200 GMT) today in order to enable a humanitarian window in Gaza. If Hamas fires, we will respond with force," Israel's army said on its Twitter account.

Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri confirmed Gaza militants were sticking to the agreement. "All the factions including Hamas are implementing what they announced, a stop to the operations of the resistance," he told AFP.

"We and all factions will follow and observe the occupation's implementation of this temporary truce," he added.

Israel and Hamas agreed on Wednesday to abide by a five-hour humanitarian truce, from 0700 to 1200 GMT, as requested by the United Nations.

It brought temporary reprieve from nine days of fighting in which 230 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli strikes, and one Israeli killed by a rocket attack.

No aid is expected to enter Gaza during the pause in fighting, but it will give thousands of Palestinians who have fled their homes the chance to return, albeit briefly.

And aid officials said the ceasefire would allow them to access areas previously off-limits because of ongoing fighting.

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