Egypt announces cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas

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Egypt announced a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas effective Wednesday evening local time, the Associated Press reported.

In details of the agreement obtained by the news agency, Israel will cease all military activity against the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip at 9 p.m. local time (11 a.m. PST) and Palestinian militants will cease rocket attacks into Israel. After 24 hours of quiet, Gaza’s border crossings with Israel will be opened further to allow freer movement of goods and people.

The announcement by Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Amr and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton followed talks in Cairo between Clinton and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.

The agreement comes after eight days of devastating fighting that had raised fears on both sides that an Israeli ground invasion might be next. The death toll had reached 144 Palestinians and five Israelis, according to news reports.

Some observers questioned whether the negotiations in Egypt had spurred an uptick in violence in recent days, with each side trying to intimidate the other ahead of the anticipated truce.

Morsi had said Tuesday that a cease-fire was imminent, only to have talks fail to reach an agreement. Arab League leaders and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also helped negotiate the deal.

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