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Palestinians claim victory as Gaza truce faces early test

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) – Palestinians have rallied by the thousands after a cease-fire took effect in the latest Gaza war.

The 11-day conflict left more than 200 dead – the vast majority Palestinians – and brought widespread devastation to the already impoverished Gaza Strip.

But the rocket barrages fired by Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers that brought life to a standstill in much of Israel were seen by many Palestinians as a bold response to perceived Israeli abuses in Jerusalem.

The truce faces an early test on Friday, when tens of thousands of Palestinians attend weekly prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, a flashpoint holy site revered by Jews and Muslims.

President Joe Biden saying he sees a “genuine opportunity” toward the larger goal of building a lasting peace in the Middle East.

Biden is crediting the Egyptian government with playing a crucial role in brokering the cease-fire.

He says he and top White House aides were intensely involved in an “hour by hour” effort to stop the bloodletting.

The president spoke Thursday after Israel and Hamas announced a cease-fire would go into effect at 2 a.m. Friday, ending an 11-day war.

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