May 22, 2021, 01.34 AM

WASHINGTON, - A fragile cease-fire between Israel and Hamas began early Friday morning, returning an uneasy calm to Gaza and Israel.

Thousands of residents took to the streets of Gaza as the cease-fire took hold at 2 a.m. local time. Young men waved Palestinian and Hamas flags, passed out sweets, honked horns and set off fireworks.

Spontaneous celebrations also broke out in east Jerusalem and across the occupied West Bank.

There was mixed reaction, however, from residents in the southern Israeli city of Sderot on Friday morning. Some criticized the government for such a hasty move, as they called it, others praised the action as a necessary and positive one in the interest of peace.

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The death toll from the 11 days of fighting stands at 230 in Gaza, including 65 children, according to local health officials there, and 12 in Israel, its authorities said.

The United Nations says more than 72,000 Palestinians have been displaced in Gaza.

U.S. President Joe Biden said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informed him Thursday that Israel "has agreed to a mutual, unconditional cease-fire" with the Hamas militant group.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken posted on Twitter that he “will be traveling to the region in the coming days” and will meet with “Israeli, Palestinian, and regional leaders.”

Cease-fire negotiations


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