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Israel withdrew 'completely' from Gaza Strip

The Israeli government and Palestinian factions had earlier endorsed an Egyptian proposal for a three-day ceasefire in the Gaza Strip starting Tuesday. "From 8:00am today we will implement a 72-hour ceasefire," the Israeli army wrote Tuesday morning on its Twitter account. "During this time, we will maintain defensive positions near the Gaza border," it added. The ceasefire started amid hopes that it will hold to give the two sides enough time to reach a durable truce. On Friday, a similar ceasefire crumbled two hours after it had come into effect when Israel resumed its aerial strikes against the blockaded Gaza Strip, claiming that Gaza-based groups had kidnapped an Israeli soldier. Israel later declared the soldier killed in combat. An Israeli delegation is expected to head to the Egyptian capital of Cairo within hours to start indirect talks with the Palestinians on an arrangement that puts an end to fighting between the two sides. Israel had been pounding the blockaded Gaza Strip -- home to 1.8 million people -- since July 7. At least 1,867 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed and 9,450 wounded in unrelenting Israeli attacks since then. The Israeli army has confirmed that 64 troops had been killed and 400 others injured in the ongoing Gaza military operation. Gaza-based resistance factions, meanwhile, had continued to fire rockets at Israeli cities, killing three civilians. The offensive -- codenamed "Operation Protective Edge" -- is the Jewish state's third major offensive against the densely-populated Gaza Strip within the last six years.

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