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Extended cease-fire reached in Gaza, officials say

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After more than 2,000 people have died, and numerous bombs and rockets have been fired from both sides, officials are saying leaders from Israel and Hamas have reached an extended cease-fire agreement in Gaza.

“Israel has once again accepted an Egyptian proposal for a complete cease-fire,” a senior Israeli official said, according to the New York Times.  “This cease-fire is unlimited in time.”  The official in question spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Even though the two sides agreed to a brokered cease-fire through Egypt, Hamas declared the end of the conflict a victory, according to TIME.  “We are here today,” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a news conference at Gaza’s Shifa Hospital, “to declare the victory of the resistance, the victory of Gaza, with the help of God, and the steadfastness of our people and the noble resistance.”

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According to reports, Hamas initially said they would only agree to a cease-fire if the blockade on Gaza, which was imposed by Israel and Egypt in 2007 after Hamas seized the area, was lifted.  However, as the violence has continued to escalate over the past seven weeks, Hamas rocket caches are reportedly down to one third of what they were at the start of the conflict, while Israel has claimed to have destroyed the majority of Hamas’ military tunnel system.

FOX News reports the blockade on Gaza will not be lifted, but Israel and Egypt will ease the blockade to allow humanitarian aid to enter Gaza as well as construction material to abet the war-torn territory.

Peace talks will continue to take place in Egypt, and discussions on key issues, including Hamas’ demand to end the blockade and Israel’s call to disarm Hamas, will begin within a month.

The cease-fire will take effect Tuesday at 7 p.m. local time.

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