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    Gaza cease-fire will begin Friday morning, with aid to follow ‘as soon as possible’


    The diplomatic breakthrough promised some relief for the 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza who have endured weeks of Israeli bombardment, as well as families in Israel fearful for the fate of their loved ones taken captive during Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack that triggered the war.

    The cease-fire was originally set to begin Thursday morning, but it appeared to hit a snag the night before when Israel’s national security adviser, Tzachi Hanegbi, announced a one-day delay without providing a reason.

    Increased aid for Palestinians will start to enter Gaza “as soon as possible,” al-Ansari said. The hope is that the “momentum” from this deal will lead to an “end to this violence,” he told reporters.

    People conduct rescue work among the rubble of buildings destroyed in Israeli airstrikes in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, on Nov. 22, 2023. (Photo by Khaled Omar/Xinhua via Getty Images)

    The figures do not include updated numbers from hospitals in the north, where services and communication largely broke down earlier this month. The ministry says some 6,000 people have been reported missing and are feared to be buried under rubble.

    The ministry stopped publishing casualty counts as of Nov. 11, saying it had lost the ability to do so because of the collapse of the health sector in the north.

    The truce agreement had raised hopes of eventually winding down the war, which has leveled vast swaths of Gaza, fueled a surge of violence in the occupied West Bank, and stirred fears of a wider conflagration across the Middle East.

    The Israeli military said it was striking the sources of the launches. Israel and Hezbollah, which fought a monthlong war in 2006, have repeatedly traded fire across the border since the war in Gaza broke out.

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    An Israeli soldier celebrates after returning from the Gaza Strip on November 22, 2023 in Southern Israel. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

    The delay in implementing the cease-fire dismayed uprooted Palestinians in Gaza, who hope to use the few days of quiet to visit homes they fled – or at least the wreckage of them — and to reconnect with families after the massive dispersal caused by the Israeli assault.

    Many talked of trying to make short visits to homes in Gaza City in the north of the territory, though it was unlikely Israeli troops controlling the area would have allowed it.

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