Gaza crisis: 72-hour humanitarian truce by Israel and Hamas begins

Israel and Hamas have begun an unconditional 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, BBC reports.

The truce came into effect at 08:00 (05:00 GMT) on Friday. Talks on a more permanent truce are to start in Cairo.

Israel says it will continue to destroy tunnels built by Hamas into Israel.

More than 1,450 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have died since the conflict began, health officials say. Sixty-one Israeli soldiers, two civilians and a Thai national have been killed.

Israel says it aims to stop rocket attacks by Palestinian militants in Gaza and remove the threat of being attacked from the tunnels.

Hamas wants a blockade of Gaza, maintained by both Israel and Egypt, to be lifted.

“We urge all parties to act with restraint until this humanitarian ceasefire begins, and to fully abide by their commitments during the ceasefire,” US Secretary of State John Kerry and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a joint statement.

“This ceasefire is critical to giving innocent civilians a much-needed reprieve from violence,” the statement went on.

It said that during the ceasefire period, civilians in Gaza would receive “urgently needed humanitarian relief, and the opportunity to carry out vital functions, including burying the dead, taking care of the injured and restocking food supplies”.

Speaking in India, Mr Kerry warned that a break in the fighting did not guarantee an end to the conflict.

“This is a respite. It is a moment of opportunity, not an end,” he said.