News World Half of Gaza razed in attacks

Half of Gaza razed in attacks

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Dozens of Palestinian bodies have been recovered from rubble in the Gaza Strip, medics say, in the middle of a 12-hour humanitarian ceasefire.

Residents flocked to food markets and stocked up on basic supplies, as a clearer picture of the large-scale damage to the enclave was beginning to emerge.

They also used the period of relative of calm after 19 days of fighting to bury the dead, which has killed 985 Palestinians in the coastal strip, most of them civilians, and injured about 6000.

Just before the temporary truce between Israel and Gaza militants went into effect, at least 18 members of one Palestinian family were killed in an Israeli airstrike.

The ceasefire, the second such lull in the fighting, comes as US Secretary of State John Kerry and six other foreign ministers were meeting in Paris to work on a more durable truce proposal by using the current pause as a starting point.

Turkey and Qatar, which have relations with Hamas, are involved in the talks along with Europeans and the Egyptians, which consider the Islamist movement in control of the strip a terrorist organisation.

“We have agreed to call on parties to extend the humanitarian truce,” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in Paris.

He added that a lasting ceasefire could only be achieved when “Gaza no longer serves as an arsenal for Hamas and living conditions of the Palestinian people are improved”.

The Israeli military said it would continue destroying Hamas’s tunnel networks under the Gaza border even during the ceasefire provided there are no violations – and warned residents who have fled their homes during the fighting not to return.

Some residents disregarded the warning, going back to check on loves ones and gather belongings.

Many found their houses and personal possessions badly damaged or destroyed.

In areas of eastern Gaza, entire blocks of buildings have been razed to the ground.

The UN says 162,000 people are taking shelter at its facilities, several of which have been hit during the conflict.

About half of Gaza, a densely populated enclave, is deemed unsafe for civilians.

Medics said an airstrike in Khan Younis in southern Gaza killed at least 18 members of the al-Najjar family, including 10 children, shortly before the humanitarian pause went into effect.

Human rights groups estimate about 200 children have been killed since the start of Israel’s offensive.