Smoke in the Air, Blood in the Streets: Gaza Before the Cease-Fire

A Palestinian boy looks skywards while others inspect the damage of a car hit by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, 31 July 2014.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry have announced that Israel and Hamas have agreed to a 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza.
The cease-fire is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. local time on Friday and continue through the weekend. Its goal is to allow Gazans a momentary reprieve to obtain urgently needed humanitarian relief, the parties said in a joint statement.
This cease-fire is critical to giving innocent civilians a much-needed reprieve from violence. During this period, civilians in Gaza will 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. Overdue repairs on essential water and energy infrastructure could also continue during this period.
At least 1,441 Palestinians have been killed, three-quarters of them civilians, since hostilities began on July 8, according to Gaza health officials. That surpasses the low-end estimate of 1,410 Palestinian deaths in Israel's 2009 invasion, according to Palestinian rights groups.
Israel says 56 soldiers, two Israeli civilians and a Thai agricultural worker have died. That's also far more than the 13 Israeli deaths in the previous campaign. On Thursday alone, more than 100 rockets were fired toward Israeli cities, the army said. As the toll has grown over the past few weeks, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has accused both Israel and Hamas militants of violating the rules of war.

Before word of the cease-fire, Israeli attacks continued Thursday, killing at least 56 Palestinians, according to Gaza health officials.

A view of Gaza on Thursday

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