GAZA: The Egypt-brokered 72-hour ceasefire went on for the second consecutive day on Wednesday after more than four weeks of fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza have left around 1,900 Palestinians dead and more than 9,500 wounded.
Life in the Gaza Strip started to return to normal amid optimistic feeling on the ongoing indirect talks in Cairo between the two sides. Israel Radio reported that talks were held in Cairo on Tuesday night and resumed on Wednesday.
It said the Egyptian delegation, which led the indirect talks, also met in Cairo with international Quartet representative Tony Blair and UN envoy to the Middle East Robert Serry.
Israel Radio said that an Israeli army force deployed along the borders with the Gaza Strip is ready to intervene until a permanent ceasefire or truce is reached. It added that the special force will keep an eye open in case attacks were carried out via tunnels.
Meanwhile, al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas movement, said in a press statement that its militants are dealing with the situation on the ground in a temporary manner, adding “the behavior of the Israeli army will decide on continuing the battle or ending it.”
The Palestinian delegation, which included representatives from Palestine Liberation Organization as well as Hamas and the Islamic Jihad movement, presented to the Egyptian intelligence a list of the Palestinian demands for reaching a permanent truce with Israel, according to a Palestinian official.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Xinhua that the demands included a mutual cease-fire, Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, ending eight years of Israeli blockade of Gaza, annulling the security measures and releasing prisoners arrested in the West Bank.
The list also included increasing the allowed fishing area to 12 miles, annulling the buffer security zone along the Gaza Strip border, and providing aid for reconstruction of the Gaza Strip.
Meanwhile, residents in the Gaza Strip kept going back to check their destroyed houses and look for corps and survivals, while rescue workers and paramedics are pulling out bodies under the rubble.
International Committee of the Red Cross representatives who visited various areas in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday confirmed that people there need immediate humanitarian help.
The Ministry of Information in Gaza said in a press statement that the death toll during the Israeli offensive on the strip has hit 1,875, including 426 children, 255 women and 79 elderly men, while the number of injuries reached around 9,500. It also said that 10,604 houses were damaged, including 10 medical centers, 188 schools and six universities.
The economic losses in the Gaza Strip have risen to 2.4 billion U.S. dollars, while the reconstruction in the whole enclave will cost some five billion dollars, the statement said. PNA