A Palestinian boy writes on a shrapnel-riddled backboard at a school in Gaza city.
A Palestinian boy writes on a shrapnel-riddled backboard at a school in Gaza city.

Cairo initiates peace talks amid truce

Gaza/Jerusalem : Palestinians were still coming to terms with the scale of devastation in Gaza on the second day of a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas on Wednesday, even as the two sides engaged in diplomacy in Egypt to hammer out a long-term truce , reports PTI.

The 72-hour ceasefire, which came into effect on Tuesday, has brought relief to millions on both sides after one month of fighting killed nearly 1,900 Palestinians and 67 people in Israel, mostly soldiers.

Tens of thousands of Gaza residents who were displaced due to heavy shelling from Israel, began returning back from the UN shelters, only to find their homes and businesses in ruins. Shops, banks and markets reopened across Gaza as people started repairing damaged property with emergency services clearing rubble to search for bodies in the worst hit areas.

For most Palestinians, rebuilding their shattered lives is still a distant goal. Their immediate challenge is to secure basic necessities, like water, food and shelter.

Running water is scarce and there are only about two-to-four hours of electricity a day, according to the UN.

Meanwhile, indirect talks between Israeli and Palestinian representatives are taking place in the Egyptian capital Cairo. Egyptian mediators were shuttling between the two delegations, relaying each side’s demands. Frantic efforts were to try to secure a lasting peace after mediators met an Israeli delegation during the night and were to relay their demands to a Palestinian team.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has urged both sides to use the ceasefire to move towards broader negotiations.

Kerry told the BBC that the situation could “concentrate people’s minds” on the need to negotiate a two-state solution.

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