Gaza Militants OK Israel Cease-Fire

Egypt brokers deal to stop escalating violence
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 21, 2011 1:45 PM CDT
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, center, visits the Iron Dome missile defense system deployed in the city of Ashkelon in southern Israel, Sunday, Aug. 21, 2011.    (Tsafrir Abayov)
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(Newser) – Gaza militants agreed to a cease-fire with Israel to stop spiking violence, a Hamas official said today, after a deadly attack across the Egyptian border on Israeli vehicles set off a three-day round of rapidly escalating Israeli airstrikes and rocket barrages from Gaza. The sudden flareup also threatened Israel-Egypt relations, after three Egyptian police were killed as the cross-border clash developed Thursday. Egypt complained strongly as thousands demonstrated in Cairo, and Israel apologized.

The senior Hamas official said that militant groups in Gaza agreed that the truce would go into effect this evening, but the Jerusalem Post reports that more rockets were fired after the cease-fire announcement. Hamas security personnel would enforce the agreement, which was brokered by Egypt. The official added that Egypt told the groups that Israel would agree to halt its airstrikes only if the Palestinians stopped the rocket fire first. Earlier today, a salvo of rockets from Gaza struck an empty school and sent thousands of Israelis into bomb shelters. Israel responded with airstrikes and diplomats scrambled to limit the violence. But alongside the diplomacy, Israel threatened to intensify its attacks if the rocket barrages continue.

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