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Middle East Unrest

Gaza Truce Holds After Rocky Start, Fans Hope of Deal With Israel

CAIRO -- A five-day extension of a Gaza truce appeared to be holding despite a rocky start on Thursday, fanning cautious optimism of progress in the Israel-Hamas negotiations underway in Cairo. It's the longest cease-fire yet since the war broke out last month in the Gaza Strip. The fighting has so far killed more than 1,900 Palestinians, the majority of them civilians, according to Palestinian and U.N. officials. Israel has lost 67 people, all but three of them soldiers.

Violence briefly spiked as the extension of a previous, 72-hour truce was announced shortly before midnight on Wednesday. The extension is to last until midnight on Monday. Israel's military said eight Hamas rockets were launched at Israel but that the firing stopped in the early hours of Thursday morning. Israel retaliated with airstrikes on rockets and rocket-launching sites in Gaza, the military said. Gaza police said it recorded 17 Israeli strikes but that no casualties were reported. Palestinian negotiators in Cairo expressed optimism that a deal to create a sustainable roadmap for the war-torn territory could soon be achieved. However, Israeli officials are reluctant to make any concessions that would allow Hamas to declare victory.

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- The Associated Press