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72-hour cease-fire takes effect in hopes of bringing an end to nearly a month of fighting

BY IBRAHIM BARZAK AND PETER ENAV

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- A cease-fire between Israel and Hamas meant to last at least three days and end nearly a month of fighting went into effect in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning.

The truce came ahead of talks in Cairo aimed at brokering a deal that would prevent future cross-border violence.

The temporary truce, agreed to by both sides, started at 8 a.m. (0500 GMT) and was to last for 72 hours during which Israel and Hamas are to hold indirect talks in the Egyptian capital.

But wide gaps remain and previous international attempts to broker a temporary halt in the fighting have failed. Hamas wants Israel and Egypt to lift their seven-year-old Gaza border blockade. Israel is reluctant to open Gaza's borders unless Hamas is disarmed.

Israel, Hamas Agree To New Cease-Fire. Will It Last?

The situation is still volatile. Just minutes ahead of the start of the truce, shelling still echoed across Gaza and Israel said Hamas fired a heavy barrage of rockets at southern and central Israel.

The war broke out on July 8 when Israel launched airstrikes it said were in response to weeks of heavy rocket fire out of Hamas-controlled Gaza. It expanded the operation on July 17 by sending in ground forces in what it described as a mission to destroy a network of tunnels used to stage attacks.

The fighting has claimed nearly 1,900 Palestinian lives - most of them civilians. The war has also left 67 dead on the Israeli side, all but three of them soldiers.

Talks in Cairo will be crucial in the coming days. Ending the Gaza conflict without a sustainable truce raises the probability of more cross-border fighting in the future. In the hours leading up to the cease-fire, there were also signs of tensions created by the Gaza fighting spreading to Jerusalem and the West Bank, including two attacks police say were carried out by Palestinian militants.

A unilateral withdrawal would have allowed Israel to end the conflict on its own terms, without engaging in protracted negotiations with Hamas over new border arrangements in Gaza. In such talks, brokered by Egypt, Israel would be asked for concessions it has been unwilling to make, such as opening Gaza's borders.

Earlier Tuesday, the Israeli military announced that all its ground troops would leave Gaza by the start of the new cease-fire.

Military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said the withdrawal was going forward after Israel neutralized cross-border tunnels that were built for Islamic militant attacks inside Israel.

"Overnight, we completed the destruction of 32 tunnels in the Gaza Strip," Lerner said. "They were part of a strategic Hamas plan to carry out attacks against southern Israel."

The rocket fire continued throughout the war, and by the time Tuesday's cease-fire went into effect, some 3,500 rockets had been fired at Israel, Lerner said. He estimated that Israeli forces destroyed another 3,000 rockets on the ground - but that Hamas has an equal number for future use.

Lerner declined to say how many ground forces had been involved in the Israeli operation, though the military acknowledged calling up 86,000 reservists, including rotations, during the course of its Gaza operation.

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What Hamas Wants Out of a Gaza Cease-Fire

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1000|Char. 1000  Char.
Tom August 05 2014 at 4:12 AM

Hamas agrees to cease fire. What a joke. Time to restock the missiles in the schools and hospitals. Hamas are a bunch of sub-humans.

Flag Reply +22 rate up
5 replies
airamrka August 05 2014 at 4:32 AM

Hamas demands that the Gaza border blockade be lifted? Since, I am against continued killing it would be insane for Israel to lift the blockade and allow Hamas to send human bombs into Israel.

Should Israel lift the blockade, it should only be on the condition that Hamas publically accepts Israel's right to exist and Hamas destroy all but defensive weapons.

Hamas breaks the agreement, as they would, Israel lines up the bulldozers on the boarder and pushes the bastards into the sea.

Flag Reply +18 rate up
3 replies
FRED August 05 2014 at 5:29 AM

The war broke out after Israel launched air strikes? Is hp rewriting history again? Hamas has been launching missles long before Israel retaliated in defense of their nation. Hamas needs to be disarmed and destroyed. It is the fault of hamas for this entire war. Get it right.

Flag Reply +14 rate up
8 replies
Joseph Rosen August 05 2014 at 4:46 AM

For Hamas the number of Palestinian victims is not important. They want as many victims as possible for a few minutes of images on CNN, BBC etc.

For these "militants" Life has no value, but Death, YES!

Gentlemen, if Islamists kill one another (as you can see in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan etc.) how do you think they will treat the "other"?
And by the "other" I am not referring only to the Jews!

Flag Reply +12 rate up
3 replies
sunshinye August 05 2014 at 5:05 AM

I had just learned that Hamas has his main military based directly under the hospital in Gaza. The prime minister of Israel had always said that Hamas will use the people as human shields to carry out his plans and you know he is right. Why would Hamas build his main military based right under a hospital knowing that there are sick people there. There is only one reason for that and that is to use these people as a human shield. He is not to be trusted. During this cease fired he is only going to restock the missles and weapons to go against Israel again and Israel has a right to defend herself.

Flag Reply +10 rate up
2 replies
ciaccim sunshinye August 05 2014 at 5:08 AM

your human bs...... not human shield

Flag Reply 0 rate up
7 replies
payjo sunshinye August 05 2014 at 7:51 AM

Who did you learn from? Learn a bit of history as well. Palestinians(Hamas) are fighting for freedom. Calling them terrorists changes nothing. And just because the humane unbiased and informed European media states the facts it does not do so because of some agenda, unlike the Zionist controlled US media which is too afraid of AIPAC, just like all US politicians who have sold their souls and dare not utter a single word of truth.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
2 replies
IBruzEZ payjo August 05 2014 at 8:33 AM

Fighting for freedom? they HAD freedom but couldn't keep their guns in their pockets, started war after war, couldn't live in any kind of peace so now... they get what they deserve.

Flag 0 rate up
lofty1463 payjo August 05 2014 at 9:34 PM

Freedom??? You obviously have no idea what the word means because all of these murderous radical Islamic movements have one thing in common: the assertion that no religion or way of life is acceptable except for radical Islam and Sharia law. The "average Palestinian" has no voice whatsoever in what comprises their daily life, and I strongly question the "election" of Hamas. Of course, on the contrary, if the Palestinians actually did truly choose Hamas, then they don't really desire freedom, do they? In that case, they have demonstrated an intolerance for anyone but a radical muslim state, and that would explain some of their behaviour. I feel that there are probably a significant number of Palestinians who do desire real peace and the implications of real freedom, but who are powerless under the boot of their radical Hamas "leaders". If the media was controlled by "Zionists", they sure aren't showing it! Why not just identify yourself as the militant muslim sympathiser that you are?

Flag 0 rate up
our.president.is.a.muslim August 05 2014 at 7:03 AM

HEADLINE NEWS:
THIS
JUST
IN --
Hamas Breaks Cease-fire,
Blames Israel...!

No proof needed --
Media agrees with Muslim Hamas,
Saying, "it was Israel's fault".....!

Flag Reply +7 rate up
kriss29 August 05 2014 at 10:14 AM

PRO ISRAEL= ANTI AMERICAN!!
CUT ALL AMERICAN TAX DOLLARS TO ISRAEL!!

Flag Reply +7 rate up
2 replies
barbgre1 kriss29 August 05 2014 at 10:16 AM

Israel is the only Democratic western-style country in the region.....and has been our best ally. Do you prefer giving money to those who want us dead? You sound like you do.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
1 reply
kriss29 barbgre1 August 05 2014 at 10:18 AM

YEA THE DISGUSTING WAY THEY MURDER WOMEN AND CHILDREN MAKE ISRAEL LOOK SOOOO CIVILZED. CUT ALL AID TILL ISRAEL MAKES PEACE WITH A 2 STATE SOLUTION!

Flag +2 rate up
okitori kriss29 August 05 2014 at 4:57 PM

Do you not get it? If Israel doesnt' contain them, they will be on our shores. Their constitution is the elimination of Isreal and the USA--we are the infidels, doncha know!

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
cwmktng okitori August 05 2014 at 7:30 PM

Don't you get it? You created them once your gone it won't matter

Flag 0 rate up
jabbahugg August 05 2014 at 5:08 AM

this is nuts...hamas is nothing but lying muslims that will never accept Israel as a nation...the only thing they understand is force...they will still treat their women like dogs and strap bombs to their children...they are swine

Flag Reply +7 rate up
1 reply
jdsept jabbahugg August 05 2014 at 6:42 AM

Hamas is no good is very true, but do not forget we treated our women as second class citizens for a long time and minorities as even less. Lying Muslims? You don't mean those that have served honorably in our military received numerous medals for their service or the ones now in training at West Point where there is a praying area for them?

Flag Reply 0 rate up
3 replies
dm2473 August 05 2014 at 7:07 AM

Captured Hamas combat manual reveals their horrific strategy of using civllians.
(google it)
Where is the outrage?
Where is CNN, BBC and HP?

Flag Reply +6 rate up
cae303 August 05 2014 at 6:57 AM

Hamas and Hezballah are extreme Islamic murderers and cowards. They are hateful jihadist who have indocrinated their children to do the same. They do not hesitate to hide rockets in schools and hospitals while carrying on a war among their own women and children. Israel by defending itself is helping other sane countries eliminate this terrorist threat. There will be no permanent peace until these terrorist groups are eliminated and their children are taught religious and cultural tolerance .

Flag Reply +6 rate up
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