A Palestinian man walks near the remains of one of Gaza's tallest apartment towers, which witnesses said was hit by an Israeli air strike that destroyed much of it, in Gaza City. Picture: Mohammed Salem

Doha -

Qatar, a key backer of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, hailed the Gaza ceasefire accord and offered to help rebuild the enclave battered by seven weeks of Israeli bombardment.

The accord for a long-term ceasefire which came into effect on Tuesday was thanks “firstly to the resistance and the sacrifices” of the Palestinians, the gas-rich Gulf emirate said in a statement.

It said Qatar, which is home to Khaled Meshaal, the exiled chief of the Islamist movement Hamas, was “ready to contribute to the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip as soon as possible”.

The conflict, which began on July 8 when Israel launched Operation Protective Edge in a bid to stamp out cross-border rocket fire, cost the lives of 2 143 Palestinians and 70 on the Israeli side.

The Egyptian-mediated deal ending a war which resulted in widespread destruction in Gaza calls for an easing of Israel's eight-year blockade of the impoverished coastal strip, a key Palestinian demand in truce talks. - Sapa-AFP