Israel and Islamic Jihad announce Gaza truce

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Israel and the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad declared a truce late on Sunday, hoping for an end to the most serious outbreak of violence on the Gaza border in more than a year.

Israeli forces attacked Palestinian targets over the weekend, prompting missile strikes on their cities, which were greatly reduced when the truce went into effect at 23:30 (20:30 GMT).

The truce was announced in separate statements by Islamic Jihad and then by Israel, which thanked Egypt for its mediation in the ceasefire.

The three-day clashes recalled preludes to previous wars in Gaza, though they were relatively contained as Hamas, the Iranian-backed Islamist group that rules the Gaza Strip and constitutes a more powerful force than Islamic Jihad, had remained on the sidelines until now.

Gaza spokesmen said 44 Palestinians, nearly half of them civilians and including children, had been killed so far. The missiles have threatened much of southern Israel and sent residents of cities such as Tel Aviv and Ashkelon to shelters.

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