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War rages on in Gaza as truce delayed

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War raged on in Gaza on Thursday, as a proposed truce and release of hostages was delayed for at least another day.


Columns of black smoke could be seen rising above northern Gaza's war zone from across the fence in Israel as daylight broke over the strip.


Israel said the release of hostages, meant to be accompanied by the war's first ceasefire, would be delayed at least until Friday.


Palestinian media reported Israeli strikes in the northern areas as well as in the southern city of Khan Younis, where Israel has told residents of the north to seek shelter. "The negotiations on the release of our hostages are advancing and continuing constantly," Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi said in a statement overnight. "The start of the release will take place according to the original agreement between the sides, and not before Friday."


The first truce in the seven-week-old war is meant to be accompanied by the release of 50 women and children hostages in exchange for 150 Palestinians from Israeli jails.


The agreement was announced on Wednesday morning, but more than a day later an expected announcement of the official start time had yet to materialise.


Mediator Qatar said on Thursday it could make an announcement within hours. Israel has said the truce could last beyond the initial four days.


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