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Cease-Fire Brokered Between Israel, Palestinians

Egypt said it has mediated a cease-fire between the Israelis and Palestinians that went into effect early on March 13.

Israel's killing of a Palestinian militant on March 9 sparked fighting, with Palestinians launching rockets toward Israel and Israeli warplanes retaliating.

Palestinian medics said late on March 12 that at least 25 people had been reported killed and some 80 wounded in Israeli air strikes since clashes began.

The Gaza Strip was reported calmer in the hours following the cease-fire's implementation.

Egyptian state television initially reported the cease-fire, quoting anonymous officials.

Later, Israel's home-front defense minister, Matan Vilnai, confirmed on public radio that an "understanding" had been reached for a truce.

Daud Shehab, a spokesman for the Islamic Jihad group that has been accused of firing most of the rockets into Israel during recent days, said his group accepts the truce as long as Israel ceases its "aggressions."

The news comes after the United States, Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations -- the so-called Quartet of Middle East peace mediators -- on March 12 called on the Palestinians and Israelis to halt "provocative actions" in a bid to end renewed violence.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has said the quartet is expected to meet next in April in Washington.

With AP, AFP, Reuters, and dpa reporting