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

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...

72-hour cease-fire takes effect in hopes of bringing an end to nearly a month of fighting
GAZA CITY, GAZA - AUGUST 5: Palestinians get back into daily routine following a 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza Strip on August 05, 2014. A 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire has already begun in the Gaza Strip upon an Egyptian proposal to give the Palestinians and the Israelis the chance to hammer out a final arrangement and an end to the Israeli war on Gaza. (Photo by Onur Coban/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Israeli reserve soldiers are seen on the top of an armored personnel carrier returning to Israel from Gaza Strip, southern Israel, Monday, Aug. 4, 2014. A brief cease-fire declared by Israel and troop withdrawals slowed violence in the Gaza war Monday, but an attack on an Israeli bus that killed one person in Jerusalem underscored the tensions still simmering in the region as Israeli airstrikes resumed late in the day. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
GAZA CITY, GAZA - AUGUST 5: Palestinians get back into daily routine following a 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza Strip on August 05, 2014. A 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire has already begun in the Gaza Strip upon an Egyptian proposal to give the Palestinians and the Israelis the chance to hammer out a final arrangement and an end to the Israeli war on Gaza. (Photo by Onur Coban/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
GAZA CITY, GAZA - AUGUST 5: Palestinians get back into daily routine following a 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza Strip on August 05, 2014. A 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire has already begun in the Gaza Strip upon an Egyptian proposal to give the Palestinians and the Israelis the chance to hammer out a final arrangement and an end to the Israeli war on Gaza. (Photo by Onur Coban/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Displaced Palestinians leave a United Nations (UN) school in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip to return to their homes on August 5, 2014, after a 72-hour ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip brokered by Egypt came into effect at 8:00 am. The Israeli army said it would withdraw completely from the Gaza Strip, when the agreed ceasefire with Hamas takes effect. AFP PHOTO/ MOHAMMED ABED (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)
An Israeli armored personnel carrier returns to Israel from Gaza Strip, southern Israel, Monday, Aug. 4, 2014. A brief cease-fire declared by Israel and troop withdrawals slowed violence in the Gaza war Monday, but an attack on an Israeli bus that killed one person in Jerusalem underscored the tensions still simmering in the region as Israeli airstrikes resumed late in the day. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
Displaced Palestinians leave a United Nations (UN) school in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip to return to their homes on August 5, 2014, after a 72-hour ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip brokered by Egypt came into effect at 8:00 am. The Israeli army said it would withdraw completely from the Gaza Strip, when the agreed ceasefire with Hamas takes effect. AFP PHOTO/ MOHAMMED ABED (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)
Israeli soldiers from the Paratroop battalion return to Israel from Gaza Strip, southern Israel, Monday, Aug. 4, 2014. A brief cease-fire declared by Israel and troop withdrawals slowed violence in the Gaza war Monday, but an attack on an Israeli bus that killed one person in Jerusalem underscored the tensions still simmering in the region as Israeli airstrikes resumed late in the day. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
Displaced Palestinians carry their belongings as they leave a United Nations (UN) school in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip to return to their homes on August 5, 2014, after a 72-hour ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip brokered by Egypt came into effect at 8:00 am. The Israeli army said it would withdraw completely from the Gaza Strip, when the agreed ceasefire with Hamas takes effect. AFP PHOTO/ MOHAMMED ABED (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)
Israeli soldiers from the Paratroop battalion return to Israel from Gaza Strip, southern Israel, Monday, Aug. 4, 2014. A brief cease-fire declared by Israel and troop withdrawals slowed violence in the Gaza war Monday, but an attack on an Israeli bus that killed one person in Jerusalem underscored the tensions still simmering in the region as Israeli airstrikes resumed late in the day. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
A displaced Palestinian woman piles her belongings onto the cart as she and her family leave a United Nations (UN) school in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip to return to their home on August 5, 2014, after a 72-hour ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip brokered by Egypt came into effect at 8:00 am. The Israeli army said it would withdraw completely from the Gaza Strip, when the agreed ceasefire with Hamas takes effect. AFP PHOTO/ MOHAMMED ABED (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)
Displaced Palestinians carry their belongings as they leave a United Nations (UN) school in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip to return to their homes on August 5, 2014, after a 72-hour ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip brokered by Egypt came into effect at 8:00 am. The Israeli army said it would withdraw completely from the Gaza Strip, when the agreed ceasefire with Hamas takes effect . AFP PHOTO/ MOHAMMED ABED (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)
Displaced Palestinians leave a United Nations (UN) school in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip to return to their homes on August 5, 2014, after a 72-hour ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip brokered by Egypt came into effect at 8:00 am. The Israeli army said it would withdraw completely from the Gaza Strip, when the agreed ceasefire with Hamas takes effect. AFP PHOTO/ MOHAMMED ABED (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)
GAZA CITY, GAZA - AUGUST 5: Palestinians get back into daily routine following a 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza Strip on August 05, 2014. A 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire has already begun in the Gaza Strip upon an Egyptian proposal to give the Palestinians and the Israelis the chance to hammer out a final arrangement and an end to the Israeli war on Gaza. (Photo by Onur Coban/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
GAZA CITY, GAZA - AUGUST 5: Palestinians get back into daily routine following a 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza Strip on August 05, 2014. A 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire has already begun in the Gaza Strip upon an Egyptian proposal to give the Palestinians and the Israelis the chance to hammer out a final arrangement and an end to the Israeli war on Gaza. (Photo by Onur Coban/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
GAZA CITY, GAZA - AUGUST 5: Palestinians get back into daily routine following a 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza Strip on August 05, 2014. A 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire has already begun in the Gaza Strip upon an Egyptian proposal to give the Palestinians and the Israelis the chance to hammer out a final arrangement and an end to the Israeli war on Gaza. (Photo by Onur Coban/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
GAZA CITY, GAZA - AUGUST 5: Palestinians get back into daily routine following a 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza Strip on August 05, 2014. A 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire has already begun in the Gaza Strip upon an Egyptian proposal to give the Palestinians and the Israelis the chance to hammer out a final arrangement and an end to the Israeli war on Gaza. (Photo by Onur Coban/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
GAZA CITY, GAZA - AUGUST 5: Palestinians get back into daily routine following a 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza Strip on August 05, 2014. A 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire has already begun in the Gaza Strip upon an Egyptian proposal to give the Palestinians and the Israelis the chance to hammer out a final arrangement and an end to the Israeli war on Gaza. (Photo by Onur Coban/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
GAZA CITY, GAZA - AUGUST 5: Palestinians get back into daily routine following a 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza Strip on August 05, 2014. A 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire has already begun in the Gaza Strip upon an Egyptian proposal to give the Palestinians and the Israelis the chance to hammer out a final arrangement and an end to the Israeli war on Gaza. (Photo by Onur Coban/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

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.

More AOL headlines:
James Brady, Reagan's press secretary, dies
US Rep. dishes on 'walk in the park' with Pelosi
P.F. Chang's reveals 33 restaurants in data breach
Mystery shrouds the fate of 400 Ukrainian troops

What Hamas Wants Out of a Gaza Cease-Fire
Read Full Story

People are Reading

The Latest from our Partners
1 - 3 of 15