CAIRO (AP) -- Israel and the Hamas militant group accepted an Egyptian cease-fire proposal Sunday, clearing the way for the resumption of talks on a long-term truce to end a month of heavy fighting in the Gaza Strip that has taken nearly 2,000 lives.<br />
The announcement marked the second time in less than a week that the bitter enemies had agreed to Egyptian mediation. A similar three-day truce last week collapsed in renewed violence over the weekend.<br />
The truce took effect at midnight (2101 GMT), preceded by heavy rocket fire toward Israel. In Cairo, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said the cease-fire would allow humanitarian aid into battered Gaza neighborhoods and the reopening of indirect talks on a more lasting and comprehensive deal.<br />
Hamas is seeking an end to the Israeli-Egyptian blockade against Gaza, while Israel wants Hamas to dismantle its formidable arsenal of rockets and other weapons.<br />
Palestinian negotiators accepted the proposal early Sunday after meeting with Egyptian officials throughout the weekend. Israeli officials concurred later. Both delegations are back in Cairo.
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