Israel and the Hamas-rulers of the Gaza Strip have agreed to a cease-fire after five days of cross-border violence, officials said on Monday, after a previously reported truce was not implemented Sunday night.
One official who was involved in mediating talks between Israel and Palestinian factions in Gaza said the groups had "reached an understanding on a truce and that the truce has started".
A Palestinian official said Hamas had agreed to enforce the cease-fire on smaller militant groups which were responsible for most of the rockets fired at Israel in the recent surge in violence.
The understandings were reached via Egyptian mediation, Ghazi Hamad, Deputy Foreign Minister for the Hamas administration in the Strip, said.
The radical Popular Resistance Committees, which often act independently of the other Gaza militias, also announced a temporary halt to its rocket fire.
A Hamas official said Sunday that the Gaza-rulers planned on enforcing a cease-fire on Sunday evening at 9 P.M., however 12 rockets have been fired from Gaza toward Israel since then.
Israeli diplomatic sources said earlier Monday that Israel has no desire for an escalation on its southern border, and that the Hamas decision to undertake a cease-fire is a unilateral step which Israel is examining its implementation.
Meanwhile, President Shimon Peres visited the southern Israeli city of Ashdod on Monday and said that Israel must respond to the rocket attacks from Gaza, but not in an overly violent manner.
"The situation in Gaza is not simple and we must examine all options," said Peres. "We were not the ones who opened fire first. Whoever started the escalation must stop it, not us."
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