Israel, Hamas Honor Cease-Fire in Gaza

A cease-fire between Israel and the Islamic group Hamas is now in effect on the Gaza Strip. The truce is aimed at ending a year of violence that has left seven Israelis and more than 400 Palestinians dead.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

We're going to check in this morning on efforts to bring peace to three of the world's most troubled regions. In a moment, we'll question the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations about Afghanistan and Sudan. We begin in the Gaza Strip, where a ceasefire went into effect today between Israel and Hamas; that's the Islamist militant group that has controlled the Palestinian territory for the last year.

NPR's Eric Westervelt has more from Gaza City.

ERIC WESTERVELT: Fighting continued right up to the 6:00 a.m. ceasefire. Yesterday Palestinians fired several barrages of Qassam rockets into Israel. An Israeli air strike this morning just before the ceasefire wounded a Hamas militant. Today Gaza residents greeted the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire with a mix of weariness, skepticism and hope.

Abu Una(ph) sells fish in the beach refugee camp in Gaza City. He says people here are simply worn out from sanctions and fighting.

Mr. ABU UNA: (Foreign language spoken)

WESTERVELT: I hope that it will work, he says. Everyone here is exhausted. We've had enough. Everyone wants this ceasefire.

If the truce holds, Israeli officials say they'll phase in an easing of the economic blockade of the territory and slowly increase the amount of goods allowed in and out of Gaza. But a full lifting of sanctions, Israel says, will only come if captured Israel soldier Gilad Shalit is released.

Egyptian-mediated talks on a possible release of Hamas prisoners in exchange for the soldier are expected to resume next week.

Eric Westervelt, NPR News, Gaza City.

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