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Gaza ceasefire holds, Palestinians return to their homes

Article published on the 2009-01-19 Latest update 2009-01-19 16:38 TU

A boy in front of his family's house in Jabalya, northern Gaza, 19 January 2009(Photo: Reuters)

A boy in front of his family's house in Jabalya, northern Gaza, 19 January 2009
(Photo: Reuters)

Israeli troops have begun to withdraw from Gaza after declaring a unilateral cease-fire following their three-week offensive against the Palestinian territory. Hamas and other militant groups announced a week-long truce, and no rockets have been fired into Israel.

RFI’s correspondent Catherine Monnet is in al Atatra, in northwestern Gaza, where she says people are coming back to their homes.

“Now the people feel safe enough to come back in their homes, or what remains of their homes,” she said, explaining that this area was badly hit by Israeli infantry troops during their 22-day offensive.

Eyewitness: correspondent Catherine Monnet, al Atatra, Gaza

19/01/2009 by Annette Gartland

“In the best case they find their house completely ravaged,” she continued, saying that Israeli soldiers had checked through individual homes.

“I don’t know how to describe what they are doing in the house: there is garbage everywhere. The Israelis left behind a big, big mess,” she said. “They are stealing things, apparently, also, in the houses.”

Many have returned to find their homes in rubble.

“Some people just don’t have houses anymore,” said Monnet. “There are many houses that have just disappeared, and which are just now ruins.”

Israel has agreed to let nearly 200 trucks loaded with humanitarian aid into Gaza and to supply 400 thousand litres of fuel through the Kerem Shalom terminal and from Karni.

Nearly 100 bodies were recovered on Sunday, bringing the death toll to over 1,300, according to medics.