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Three-day Gaza ceasefire begins

The three-day Gaza ceasefire has begun after heavy Israel-Hamas fighting early today.

The ceasefire, announced hours earlier by America and the United Nations, took effect at 8am local time (6am BST).

But US secretary of state John Kerry warned there were “no guarantees” that the lull would bring an end to the Gaza war, now in its fourth week.

Israel and Hamas both said they would respect the ceasefire, but respond to attacks.
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At least four short humanitarian ceasefires have been announced since the conflict began, but each has been broken within a few hours by renewed fighting.

Hours before the ceasefire was to take effect, 17 Palestinians were killed in Israeli strikes. Israel’s military said five soldiers were killed along the Gaza border the previous evening.

More than 1,450 Palestinians have been killed since hostilities began on July 8, according to Palestinian officials. Israel says 61 of its soldiers and three civilians in Israel have been killed.

In the hours before the ceasefire, police reported heavy Israeli tank shelling in northern and eastern Gaza and the loud exchange of fire between Israeli troops and militants was audible throughout Gaza City. Tank shells landed on homes in the city, setting homes and shops ablaze.

Hamas fighters hit an Israeli tank with an anti-tank missile, Gaza police said, and then attacked Israeli troops who came to evacuate the tank crew. Clashes continued into the early morning hours, police said.

The Israeli military said it was looking into the matter.

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