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Israel-Hamas ceasefire grasps as UN launches Gaza aid plea

The ceasefire, which ended 11 days of violence, now holds for a third day as international actors continue mediation efforts.

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A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas has entered into a third day as mediators spoke to all sides about extending the period of calm after the worst outbreak of fighting in years, which saw at least 248 Palestinians, including 66 children, killed by Israeli bombardments.

Egyptian mediators have been shuttling between Israel and the Gaza Strip, ruled by Hamas, to try to sustain the ceasefire. Mediators have also met with the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the occupied West Bank.

Egypt’s foreign minister was also set to meet top Jordanian officials on Sunday to discuss de-escalation and ways to revive the Middle East peace process.

On Sunday, in a badly damaged district of Gaza City, volunteers swept up clouds of dust at the feet of collapsed buildings, while others shoveled debris onto the back of a donkey-drawn cart.

Elsewhere, dozens of Jewish settlers, flanked by heavily armed Israeli special forces, entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem, further raising tensions hours after Palestinian worshippers were beaten and assaulted by the Israeli police, according to the authority overseeing the site.

Citing witnesses, a Palestinian news agency said Israeli police had, earlier on Sunday, assaulted Palestinian worshippers who were performing dawn prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque and “excessively beat” them in order to make way for Israeli Jewish settlers to enter the compound.

Lynn Hastings, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Palestinian territories, said on Sunday that the UN would launch an appeal to repair the damage in the densely-populated and besieged Gaza Strip, where there is a threat of COVID-19 spreading further.

“The escalation has exacerbated an already dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, generated by nearly 14 years of blockade and internal political divisions, alongside recurrent hostilities,” Hastings said in a statement issued from the Gaza Strip.

“We must also ensure support to continue addressing needs that already existed, including those arising from the ongoing pandemic.”

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