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Worldcrunch

Gaza Update: Ceasefire Holds, Israel Arrests 55 Palestinians In West Bank

THE JERUSALEM POST (Israel), MA'AN NEWS AGENCY (Palestinians Territories), BBC (UK)

Worldcrunch

A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the militant Islamist organization in control of Gaza, appears to be holding into Thursday afternoon.

Israel Defense Forces said that three rockets had been fired into Israel since the ceasefire was announced, two of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome shield. However, since midnight, there has been no reported firing on either side.

Residents of Gaza City took to the streets Wednesday evening to celebrate, after the announcement of the Egyptian-brokered truce to end the fighting that had claimed the lives of more than 160 Palestinians and five Israelis.

Despite the heavy death toll, Hamas was claiming victory Thursday: "The masses that took to the streets last night to celebrate sent a message to all the world that Gaza can't be defeated," said a spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri.

The latest conflict has certainly brought Hamas unprecedented political recognition, with its officials meeting with many foreign ambassadors and engaging in diplomatic discussions over the past few days.

A senior Israeli defense official told the Jerusalem Post, "There will be all sorts of 'victory' celebrations in Gaza. These can be interpreted in many ways."

The unnamed official also states, "We will follow all developments in Gaza, and we must be prepared for 'days of rage' that could be held on Friday in Gaza and the West Bank after prayers."

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak also stressed to reporters that the ceasefire was not an agreement with Hamas, but rather an understanding between Israel and Egypt as well as Hamas and Egypt.

Yesterday's bus explosion in Tel Aviv may have hardened an already tough Israeli stance on Gaza. As the ceasefire was being announced yesterday evening, Israel's Channel 2 published a poll that showed 70% of Israeli citizens oppose the truce.

After one of the most brutal conflicts in Gaza's recent history, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was calling for urgent humanitarian aid for the Palestinian territory.

Israel says that it targeted up to 1,500 sites in Gaza during Operation Pillar of Defense.

@DerekStoffelCBC via Twitter

Palestinian Ma'an news agency reports that the Israeli army conducted mass raids in the West Bank Wednesday night, detaining more than 50 Palestinians who they believe to have been involved "in recent violent and terrorist activity."

A military statement said that 55 Palestinians had been detained, in order to "restore calm."

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