GAZA CITY, January 18 – A nervous peace reigned in Gaza early on Sunday after Israel unilaterally halted a 22-day-old war on Hamas but said its troops would remain in the battered enclave for the time being.,
Five hours after Israel’s ceasefire went into effect at 0000 GMT on Sunday, no air raids or major clashes were reported in the Palestinian territory, witnesses and the army said.
Witnesses said there was a short exchange of gunfire between Palestinian militants and Israeli troops near the southern town of Rafah, but the army did not confirm the report.
The duration of the ceasefire is in doubt after Hamas said it would not accept the presence of a single Israeli soldier in the territory.
Israel launched Operation Cast Lead on Hamas on December 27 in response to consistent rocket fire from the enclave run by the Islamists for a year and a half.
The war killed at least 1,206 Palestinians, more than 400 of them children, and wounded another 5,300, according to Gaza medics.
On the Israeli side, three civilians and 10 soldiers were killed in combat and rocket strikes, according to Israeli medics.
Israel battered the territory with some 2,500 air strikes, as well as tank and artillery fire.
Gaza militants fired more than 700 rockets and mortars into Israel.