Gaza Truce Begins, Gazans Await Relief

GAZA CITY – As a new truce between the Palestinians and Israel came into force on Thursday, June 19, people in the impoverished Gaza Strip are praying that calm will bring along with it much-need food and energy supplies after months of crippling siege.

"Everyone here is miserable, we need a period of calm," Fael al-Ganu, a 48-year-old father of 10, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

"We have no gas. We’ve had to cook our meals over cardboard."

An Egyptian-brokered truce between Palestinian factions in Gaza and Israel came into effect at 6 a.m. (0300 GMT).   

Will Gaza Truce Hold?
 
It was concluded after months of indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas, the ruling party in Gaza.

"God willing the period of calm will hold," says Nasser al-Farhan, 22.

"But Israel has never kept to them before. It always continues with its attacks and its arrests."

Shortly before the truce went into effect, an Israeli missile strike killed a Palestinian and wounded another in central Gaza.

The latest fatality brought to at least 516 the number of people killed by Israel in Gaza since November.

"I hope things will be good and that people will no longer sleep in fear and horror," Jamila al-Athamna, who lost 19 relatives to an Israeli tank shell in 2006, told Reuters.

"I hope there will be no more rockets, no more gunfire and no more drones in skies."

Optimistic

Many Gazans now hope that the period of calm would bring an end to the long-running Israeli blockade.

"I’ve been sleeping here for 10 days," Fawzi Gharab said, pointing to a dusty mattress and blankets spread out near a line of about 100 gas canisters.

"At night the fleas are terrible. I’m covered in bites."

The 43-year-old has been trading shifts with his 12-year-old son, spending days standing in line under a sweltering sun and nights curled up on a dusty parking lot outside the iron gates of the filling station.

When the petrol stations open, cars line up for days waiting to fill up, their drivers clutching ration cards issued by the Gaza government.

The less fortunate have taken to filling up their tanks with cooking oil.

Israel has been closing the Gaza Strip’s exits to the outside world since June and completely locked down the coastal territory since January, banning food and fuel shipment supplies.

Israel said Thursday it plans to begin increasing the fuel supply next week if the truce holds.

"The ceasefire is in the interest of the resistance and is part of it," said Ali Dahduh, a 38-year-old father of six.

"Our goal is not to kill the Jews, but to secure our rights."
 
(IslamOnline.net and news agencies)

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