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Cease-fire between Israel, Islamic Jihad holds as Gaza crossings partly reopened

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Smoke billows as an air bomb drops on a target in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip during an Israeli airstrike on Sunday. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/c71304afaf5dcce388d1d874432ff50f/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Smoke billows as an air bomb drops on a target in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip during an Israeli airstrike on Sunday. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 8 (UPI) -- A cease-fire between Israel and the militant group Islamic Jihad was holding early on Monday and the Israeli government began easing restrictions related to movements into Gaza.

Both sides agreed to the cease-fire on Sunday after days of fighting that saw Israel hit targets in Gaza and the Iran-backed Islamic Jihad group fire a number of rockets at Israel, most of which were intercepted by Jerusalem's Iron Dome defense system.

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On Monday, Israeli authorities partially reopened borders near Gaza for humanitarian activities. Officials said the border crossings would be fully reopened if the cease-fire continues to hold.

Officials said that trains were scheduled to resume operations later Monday and a United Nations delegation was expected in Gaza to help facilitate the cease-fire.

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Fuel trucks entered a Gaza cargo crossing station on Monday for the first time since it was closed at the start of fighting on Friday. The fuel stoppage created a shortage that shut down Gaza's only power plant over the weekend. The plant was back online Monday.

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The Israeli military said all security measures the Home Front Command put in place across the southern and central parts of the country were lifted at noon.

An anti-rocket missile fires from Israel's Iron Dome defense missile system -- which is designed to intercept and destroy incoming short-range rockets and artillery shells -- on Sunday near Ashdod in southern Israel. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI

U.S. President Joe Biden, who visited Israel last month, voiced support for the new cease-fire.

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"My support for Israel's security is long-standing and unwavering -- including its right to defend itself against attacks," Biden said in a statement late Sunday.

"Over these recent days, Israel has defended its people from indiscriminate rocket attacks launched by the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the United States is proud of our support for Israel's Iron Dome, which intercepted hundreds of rockets and saved countless lives."

Biden added that the dozens of civilian casualties that resulted from the fighting are tragic.

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"The reports of civilian casualties in Gaza are a tragedy, whether by Israeli strikes against Islamic Jihad positions or the dozens of Islamic Jihad rockets that reportedly fell inside Gaza," he said. "My administration supports a timely and thorough investigation into all of these reports, and we also call on all parties to fully implement the cease-fire, and to ensure fuel and humanitarian supplies are flowing into Gaza as the fighting subsides."

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"As I made clear during my recent trip to Israel and the West Bank, Israelis and Palestinians both deserve to live safely and securely and to enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity, and democracy," the American president added.

"My administration will remain engaged with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to support that vision and to implement the initiatives launched during my visit to improve the quality of life for Palestinians and Israelis alike."

More than 50 hours of fighting -- which began Friday when Israel fired what it called pre-emptive strikes on Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza -- was the first major fighting in the area since the 11-day war between Israel and Gaza-based Hamas in May 2021.

The Egyptian-negotiated truce came with a message from the Israeli prime minister's office standing firm.

"The state of Israel maintains the right to respond strongly," the office said according to CNN.

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