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Tense Israeli-Hamas Cease-Fire Holding In Gaza

An Israeli tank maneuvers at an army deployment area near the Israel-Gaza Strip border on November 22.
Reports suggested a cease-fire agreement between Israel and the Islamist movement Hamas appeared to be holding on November 22.

The break in violence in Gaza and Israel that came into effect overnight ended eight days of fighting between the two sides.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his government was "giving the cease-fire a chance" but was prepared for the eventuality that it might collapse.

"We are prepared to act if the calm is violated," Netanyahu warned. "The objectives that we set for the operation have been achieved. I know that there are citizens who expect an even tougher response. We are prepared for that too. We choose when, against whom, and how to act, as we did in this operation. Now we are giving the cease-fire a chance."

Gaza's Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, declared the cease-fire a "victory" for that Islamist movement.

"The resistance has changed the rules of the game with the occupation and it has disrupted their security and military calculations," Haniyeh said. "I say to the Palestinian people in Gaza, the West Bank, and everywhere, and to the entire Arab and Islamic world: After this victory, the idea of invading Gaza is over and will never come back, God willing."

The cease-fire agreement was brokered by Egypt and backed by the United States.

It was announced by Egyptian Foreign Minister Muhammad Kamel Amr at a joint press conference with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Cairo on November 21.

Under the deal, Israel agreed to end all hostilities, while the Palestinians agreed to stop rocket attacks against Israel.

Israel would also begin talks on easing restrictions on the movement of people and goods across the Gaza borders.

Some 160 Palestinians, including dozens of children, have been killed since the violence began eight days ago.

An Israeli soldier wounded in an earlier mortar attack died on November 22, bringing to six the number of Israeli casualties.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP