Gaza City (Palestinian Territories): An Egypt-brokered truce took hold in the Gaza Strip on Thursday after a week of bitter fighting between militant groups and Israel, with both sides claiming victory but remaining wary.

In Gaza City, there was a semblance of normality in the streets following a week of relentless Israeli air strikes and a night of celebrations that began as the truce came into effect at 1900 GMT (12:30 IST) on Wednesday.

Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr of Egypt, which sponsored the marathon talks which resulted in the ceasefire, announced the cessation of hostilities at a joint news conference in Cairo with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The UN Security Council urged Israel and Hamas to respect the ceasefire while joining with US President Barack Obama in praising Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi for mediating an end to the bloodshed.

As calm returned to the skies after a week of unstinting air strikes which began on November 14 when Israel killed a top Hamas commander, jubilant Gazans flooded into the streets to celebrate.

Gunfire and fireworks streaked into the dark night sky, where Israeli drones could still be heard buzzing overhead, as mosques broadcast the chants: "God is greatest" and "The resistance is victorious."

Some residents waved the green flags of Gaza's ruling Hamas movement and others the Egyptian flag, in tribute to the role Cairo played in the negotiations.


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