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Celebrations in Gaza as uneasy truce holds firm

A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas held firm yesterday, with scenes of joy among the ruins in Gaza over what Palestinians hailed as a victory, while both sides said their fingers were still on the trigger.

Palestinians who had been under Israeli bombs for eight days poured into Gaza streets for a celebratory rally, walking past wrecked houses and government buildings.

Schools stayed closed in southern Israel, where nerves were jangled by warning sirens – a false alarm, the army said – after the most serious fighting in four years.

Israel had launched its strikes last week to end rocket attacks on its territory from Gaza. Hamas had responded with more rockets.

The truce, brokered by Egypt's new Islamist leaders, working with the US, headed off an Israeli invasion of Gaza.

It was the fruit of diplomacy by US President Barack Obama, who sent his Secretary of State to Cairo and made phone calls to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi.

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