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Truce offers brief window for Gazans to bury dead

Source: Reuters - Tue, 5 Aug 2014 19:27 PM
Author: Reuters
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In Gaza, they stumbled back into their neighborhoods, and took in the devastation.

A 72-hour truce between Israel and Hamas gives Palestinians a brief window to return to their homes and to search for bodies buried under debris.

Soon after the ceasefire was declared, two bodies were found but medics expect to find many more in the days to come.

Residents find entire clusters of houses -- destroyed.

(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) RAFAH RESIDENT, MOHAMMAD ABU RJAL, SAYING:

"We came here in the morning and found destruction everywhere, a mosque, Koran books, decomposed children were found under the rubble after five days, public buildings that used to serve people were destroyed - they want to destroy all the institutions of the Gaza Strip."

The war that started July 8 has been the worst Israeli-Palestinian fighting in two years.

In Gaza City, Peter Maurer, the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross toured a hospital that's treating scores of wounded.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS PRESIDENT PETER MAURER SAYING:

"And this leaves me with a deep feeling of shock and being shaken by what I have seen, by anger and frustration also, about the fact that we were not able to prevent what was happening."

As the truce began, Israel started pulling its ground forces out of the Gaza Strip.

A military spokesman says forces are being redeployed in defensive positions outside the Strip -- ready, should fighting resume.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES SPOKESPERSON, LIEUTENANT COLONEL PETER LERNER, SAYING:

"The next 72 hours are crucial to see what happens and what develops. We are taking a defensive stand. We are there in order to prevent further infiltration and further attacks from Gaza, originating from Gaza."

The war's been costly for Gaza.

It faces a $6 billion price tag to rebuild infrastructure.

But the human cost, that can't be calculated.

Close to 1,900 Palestinians were killed, almost all of them civilians -- among them many children.

And over a half million people -- that's about one in four Gazans -- are now displaced.

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