Hamas says Gaza cease-fire reached with Israel

JERUSALEM — Gaza’s Hamas rulers said late Thursday that a truce had been reached with Israel, ending an intense two-day burst of violence that had pushed the region closer to war. But the deal did not appear to address the deeper issues that have prevented the bitter enemies from reaching a longer cease-fire arrangement.

Hamas’ Al Aqsa TV channel reported late Thursday that the Egyptian-brokered deal has taken hold “on the basis of mutual calm.” It said the deal was mediated by Egypt and other unidentified regional players.

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A senior Hamas official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said the agreement merely ended the latest round of violence, in which Gaza militants fired some 200 rockets at Israel and the Israeli military carried out a similar number of airstrikes in Gaza.

He said Egypt, which often serves as a mediator between the sides, would continue the more difficult task of brokering a long-term cease-fire.

An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter with the media, denied a deal had been reached.

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The Hamas announcement came shortly after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Security Cabinet ordered the army to take unspecified “strong action” against Gaza militants as the military reinforced units along the border.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since the Islamic militant group seized control of Gaza in 2007. In this week’s fighting, the Palestinian Health Ministry said three Palestinians, including a pregnant woman and her 1-year-old daughter and a Hamas militant, were killed in separate airstrikes.