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Israel and Hamas agree to Gaza cease-fire

  • In this image made from Egyptian State Television, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, and Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr, right, shake hands after a joint news conference announcing a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. Egypt has announced a cease-fire agreement to end a week of fighting between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr said the truce would take effect at 9 p.m. local time (2 p.m. EDT.) He made the announcement alongside visiting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. (AP Photo/Egyptian State Television)

CAIRO — Israel and the Hamas militant group agreed to a cease-fire Wednesday to end eight days of the fiercest fighting in nearly four years, promising to halt air strikes and rocket attacks that have killed scores and to discuss easing an Israeli blockade constricting the Gaza Strip.

Gazans emerged from their homes after a week, cheering and chanting. Gunmen fired in the air, and chants of "God is Great" echoed from mosque loudspeakers. Residents hugged and kissed in celebration, while others distributed candy and waved Hamas flags.

"I just hope they commit to peace," said Abdel-Nasser al-Tom, from northern Gaza.

However, rocket fire continued to slam into southern Israel long after the cease-fire deadline had passed, authorities said, and schools in the region planned to stay shut Thursday as a precaution in case rockets continue to be launched.

The deal was brokered by the new Islamist government of Egypt, solidifying its role as a leader in the quickly shifting Middle East after two days of intense shuttle diplomacy that saw U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton race to the region. Under the agreement, Egypt will play a key role in maintaining the peace.


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