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Gaza truce open-ended, but puts off tough issues

  • Palestinian children sit inside the trunk of their family car while chanting slogans as they celebrate the cease-fire between Palestinians and Israelis at the main rood in Gaza, in the northern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014.  Israel and Hamas agreed Tuesday to an open-ended cease-fire, halting a seven-week war that killed more than 2,200 people, the vast majority Palestinians, left tens of thousands in Gaza homeless and devastated entire neighborhoods in the blockaded territory.  (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

    Palestinian children sit inside the trunk of their family car while chanting slogans as they celebrate the cease-fire between Palestinians and Israelis at the main rood in Gaza, in the northern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Israel and Hamas agreed Tuesday to an open-ended cease-fire, halting a seven-week war that killed more than 2,200 people, the vast majority Palestinians, left tens of thousands in Gaza homeless and devastated entire neighborhoods in the blockaded territory. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

  • A Palestinian girl flashes victory sign with her father as they celebrate the cease-fire between Palestinians and Israelis at the main road in Gaza, in the northern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014.   Israel and Hamas agreed Tuesday to an open-ended cease-fire, halting a seven-week war that killed more than 2,200 people, the vast majority Palestinians, left tens of thousands in Gaza homeless and devastated entire neighborhoods in the blockaded territory.  (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

    A Palestinian girl flashes victory sign with her father as they celebrate the cease-fire between Palestinians and Israelis at the main road in Gaza, in the northern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Israel and Hamas agreed Tuesday to an open-ended cease-fire, halting a seven-week war that killed more than 2,200 people, the vast majority Palestinians, left tens of thousands in Gaza homeless and devastated entire neighborhoods in the blockaded territory. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

  • A Palestinian boy sits next to the destroyed 15-story Basha Tower following early morning Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Israel bombed two Gaza City high-rises with dozens of homes and shops Tuesday, collapsing the 15-story Basha Tower and severely damaging the Italian Complex in a further escalation in seven weeks of cross-border fighting with Hamas. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

    A Palestinian boy sits next to the destroyed 15-story Basha Tower following early morning Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Israel bombed two Gaza City high-rises with dozens of homes and shops Tuesday, collapsing the 15-story Basha Tower and severely damaging the Italian Complex in a further escalation in seven weeks of cross-border fighting with Hamas. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

  • Palestinians have a coffee next to the rubble of the 15-story Basha Tower that collapsed from early morning Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Tuesday's strikes leveled the Basha Tower with apartments and offices and severely damaged another high-rise, the Italian Complex, built in the 1990s by an Italian businessman, with dozens of shops and offices. Both buildings were evacuated after receiving warnings of impending strikes. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

    Palestinians have a coffee next to the rubble of the 15-story Basha Tower that collapsed from early morning Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Tuesday's strikes leveled the Basha Tower with apartments and offices and severely damaged another high-rise, the Italian Complex, built in the 1990s by an Italian businessman, with dozens of shops and offices. Both buildings were evacuated after receiving warnings of impending strikes. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

  • A man looks at a home hit by a rocket fired from the northern Gaza Strip Tuesday morning in the costal city of Ashkelon, Israel, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

    A man looks at a home hit by a rocket fired from the northern Gaza Strip Tuesday morning in the costal city of Ashkelon, Israel, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

  • A police sapper surveys a home hit by a rocket fired from the northern Gaza Strip Tuesday morning in the costal city of Ashkelon, Israel, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

    A police sapper surveys a home hit by a rocket fired from the northern Gaza Strip Tuesday morning in the costal city of Ashkelon, Israel, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

  • CORRECTS PHOTOGRAPHER BYLINE FROM ADEL HANA TO EYAD BABA -A Palestinian woman gets emotional as she stands on the rubble of a house belong to al Akhras family after it was hit by an Israeli strike in Rafah refugee camp, in the southern Gaza Strip, early Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Two people were wounded in the airstrke on a house at the Rafah refugee camp, according Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra. (AP Photo/Eyad Baba)

    CORRECTS PHOTOGRAPHER BYLINE FROM ADEL HANA TO EYAD BABA -A Palestinian woman gets emotional as she stands on the rubble of a house belong to al Akhras family after it was hit by an Israeli strike in Rafah refugee camp, in the southern Gaza Strip, early Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Two people were wounded in the airstrke on a house at the Rafah refugee camp, according Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra. (AP Photo/Eyad Baba)

  • CORRECTS PHOTOGRAPHER BYLINE FROM ADEL HANA TO EYAD BABA - A Palestinian relative salvages what he can from his family's belongings amid the rubble of the al-Akhras family home after it was hit by Israeli strike in Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Two people were wounded in the airstrike on the house according Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra. (AP Photo/Eyad Baba)

    CORRECTS PHOTOGRAPHER BYLINE FROM ADEL HANA TO EYAD BABA - A Palestinian relative salvages what he can from his family's belongings amid the rubble of the al-Akhras family home after it was hit by Israeli strike in Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Two people were wounded in the airstrike on the house according Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra. (AP Photo/Eyad Baba)

  • Palestinians rest amid the rubble of the 15-story Basha Tower that was leveled in early morning Israeli airstrikes, in Gaza City, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Israel bombed two Gaza City high-rises with dozens of homes and shops Tuesday, collapsing the 15-story Basha Tower and severely damaging the Italian Complex in a further escalation in seven weeks of cross-border fighting with Hamas. Both buildings were evacuated after receiving warnings of impending strikes. The wall painting depicts the pilgrimage to Mecca or Haj. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

    Palestinians rest amid the rubble of the 15-story Basha Tower that was leveled in early morning Israeli airstrikes, in Gaza City, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Israel bombed two Gaza City high-rises with dozens of homes and shops Tuesday, collapsing the 15-story Basha Tower and severely damaging the Italian Complex in a further escalation in seven weeks of cross-border fighting with Hamas. Both buildings were evacuated after receiving warnings of impending strikes. The wall painting depicts the pilgrimage to Mecca or Haj. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

  • A Palestinian family looks from a window to the rubble of the collapsed 15-story Basha Tower following early morning Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Israel bombed two Gaza City high-rises with dozens of homes and shops Tuesday, collapsing the 15-story Basha Tower and severely damaging the Italian Complex in a further escalation in seven weeks of cross-border fighting with Hamas. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

    A Palestinian family looks from a window to the rubble of the collapsed 15-story Basha Tower following early morning Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Israel bombed two Gaza City high-rises with dozens of homes and shops Tuesday, collapsing the 15-story Basha Tower and severely damaging the Italian Complex in a further escalation in seven weeks of cross-border fighting with Hamas. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

  • Israelis sit in their home that was hit by a rocket fired from the northern Gaza Strip Tuesday morning, in the costal city of Ashkelon, Israel, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

    Israelis sit in their home that was hit by a rocket fired from the northern Gaza Strip Tuesday morning, in the costal city of Ashkelon, Israel, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

  • Palestinians celebrate the cease-fire between Palestinians and Israelis at the main road in Gaza, in the northern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Israel and Hamas agreed Tuesday to an open-ended cease-fire, halting a seven-week war that killed more than 2,200 people, the vast majority Palestinians, left tens of thousands in Gaza homeless and devastated entire neighborhoods in the blockaded territory. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

    Palestinians celebrate the cease-fire between Palestinians and Israelis at the main road in Gaza, in the northern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Israel and Hamas agreed Tuesday to an open-ended cease-fire, halting a seven-week war that killed more than 2,200 people, the vast majority Palestinians, left tens of thousands in Gaza homeless and devastated entire neighborhoods in the blockaded territory. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

  • A Palestinian family flashes victory signs as they celebrate the cease-fire between Palestinians and Israelis at the main rood in Gaza, in the northern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014.  Israel and Hamas agreed Tuesday to an open-ended cease-fire, halting a seven-week war that killed more than 2,200 people, the vast majority Palestinians, left tens of thousands in Gaza homeless and devastated entire neighborhoods in the blockaded territory.  (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

    A Palestinian family flashes victory signs as they celebrate the cease-fire between Palestinians and Israelis at the main rood in Gaza, in the northern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Israel and Hamas agreed Tuesday to an open-ended cease-fire, halting a seven-week war that killed more than 2,200 people, the vast majority Palestinians, left tens of thousands in Gaza homeless and devastated entire neighborhoods in the blockaded territory. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

  • A Palestinian Hamas supporter holds up a little girl wearing green flags as people gather in the streets during celebrations for the cease-fire between Palestinians and Israelis, in the West bank city of Ramallah, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014.  Israel and Hamas agreed Tuesday to an open-ended cease-fire, halting a seven-week war that killed more than 2,200 people, the vast majority Palestinians, left tens of thousands in Gaza homeless and devastated entire neighborhoods in the blockaded territory. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

    A Palestinian Hamas supporter holds up a little girl wearing green flags as people gather in the streets during celebrations for the cease-fire between Palestinians and Israelis, in the West bank city of Ramallah, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Israel and Hamas agreed Tuesday to an open-ended cease-fire, halting a seven-week war that killed more than 2,200 people, the vast majority Palestinians, left tens of thousands in Gaza homeless and devastated entire neighborhoods in the blockaded territory. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

  • Palestinian children sit inside the trunk of their family car while chanting slogans as they celebrate the cease-fire between Palestinians and Israelis at the main rood in Gaza, in the northern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014.  Israel and Hamas agreed Tuesday to an open-ended cease-fire, halting a seven-week war that killed more than 2,200 people, the vast majority Palestinians, left tens of thousands in Gaza homeless and devastated entire neighborhoods in the blockaded territory.  (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
  • A Palestinian girl flashes victory sign with her father as they celebrate the cease-fire between Palestinians and Israelis at the main road in Gaza, in the northern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014.   Israel and Hamas agreed Tuesday to an open-ended cease-fire, halting a seven-week war that killed more than 2,200 people, the vast majority Palestinians, left tens of thousands in Gaza homeless and devastated entire neighborhoods in the blockaded territory.  (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
  • A Palestinian boy sits next to the destroyed 15-story Basha Tower following early morning Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Israel bombed two Gaza City high-rises with dozens of homes and shops Tuesday, collapsing the 15-story Basha Tower and severely damaging the Italian Complex in a further escalation in seven weeks of cross-border fighting with Hamas. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
  • Palestinians have a coffee next to the rubble of the 15-story Basha Tower that collapsed from early morning Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Tuesday's strikes leveled the Basha Tower with apartments and offices and severely damaged another high-rise, the Italian Complex, built in the 1990s by an Italian businessman, with dozens of shops and offices. Both buildings were evacuated after receiving warnings of impending strikes. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
  • A man looks at a home hit by a rocket fired from the northern Gaza Strip Tuesday morning in the costal city of Ashkelon, Israel, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
  • A police sapper surveys a home hit by a rocket fired from the northern Gaza Strip Tuesday morning in the costal city of Ashkelon, Israel, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
  • CORRECTS PHOTOGRAPHER BYLINE FROM ADEL HANA TO EYAD BABA -A Palestinian woman gets emotional as she stands on the rubble of a house belong to al Akhras family after it was hit by an Israeli strike in Rafah refugee camp, in the southern Gaza Strip, early Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Two people were wounded in the airstrke on a house at the Rafah refugee camp, according Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra. (AP Photo/Eyad Baba)
  • CORRECTS PHOTOGRAPHER BYLINE FROM ADEL HANA TO EYAD BABA - A Palestinian relative salvages what he can from his family's belongings amid the rubble of the al-Akhras family home after it was hit by Israeli strike in Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Two people were wounded in the airstrike on the house according Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra. (AP Photo/Eyad Baba)
  • Palestinians rest amid the rubble of the 15-story Basha Tower that was leveled in early morning Israeli airstrikes, in Gaza City, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Israel bombed two Gaza City high-rises with dozens of homes and shops Tuesday, collapsing the 15-story Basha Tower and severely damaging the Italian Complex in a further escalation in seven weeks of cross-border fighting with Hamas. Both buildings were evacuated after receiving warnings of impending strikes. The wall painting depicts the pilgrimage to Mecca or Haj. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
  • A Palestinian family looks from a window to the rubble of the collapsed 15-story Basha Tower following early morning Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Israel bombed two Gaza City high-rises with dozens of homes and shops Tuesday, collapsing the 15-story Basha Tower and severely damaging the Italian Complex in a further escalation in seven weeks of cross-border fighting with Hamas. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
  • Israelis sit in their home that was hit by a rocket fired from the northern Gaza Strip Tuesday morning, in the costal city of Ashkelon, Israel, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
  • Palestinians celebrate the cease-fire between Palestinians and Israelis at the main road in Gaza, in the northern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. Israel and Hamas agreed Tuesday to an open-ended cease-fire, halting a seven-week war that killed more than 2,200 people, the vast majority Palestinians, left tens of thousands in Gaza homeless and devastated entire neighborhoods in the blockaded territory. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
  • A Palestinian family flashes victory signs as they celebrate the cease-fire between Palestinians and Israelis at the main rood in Gaza, in the northern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014.  Israel and Hamas agreed Tuesday to an open-ended cease-fire, halting a seven-week war that killed more than 2,200 people, the vast majority Palestinians, left tens of thousands in Gaza homeless and devastated entire neighborhoods in the blockaded territory.  (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
  • A Palestinian Hamas supporter holds up a little girl wearing green flags as people gather in the streets during celebrations for the cease-fire between Palestinians and Israelis, in the West bank city of Ramallah, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014.  Israel and Hamas agreed Tuesday to an open-ended cease-fire, halting a seven-week war that killed more than 2,200 people, the vast majority Palestinians, left tens of thousands in Gaza homeless and devastated entire neighborhoods in the blockaded territory. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Israel and Hamas agreed yesterday to an open-ended cease-fire after seven weeks of fighting – an uneasy deal that halts the deadliest war the sides have fought in years, with more than 2,200 killed, but puts off the most difficult issues.

In the end, both sides settled for an ambiguous interim agreement in exchange for a period of calm. Hamas, though badly battered, remains in control of Gaza with part of its military arsenal intact. Israel and Egypt will continue to control access to blockaded Gaza, despite Hamas’s long-running demand that the border closures imposed in 2007 be lifted.

Hamas declared victory, even though it had little to show for a war that killed 2,143 Palestinians, wounded more than 11,000 and left some 100,000 homeless. On the Israeli side, 64 soldiers and six civilians were killed, including two killed by Palestinian mortar fire shortly before the cease-fire was announced.

Large crowds gathered in Gaza City after the truce took effect at dusk, some waving the green flags of Hamas, while celebratory gunfire and fireworks erupted across the territory.

Mahmoud Zahar, a senior Hamas leader, promised to rebuild homes destroyed in the war and said Hamas would rearm. “We will build and upgrade our arsenal to be ready for the coming battle, the battle of full liberation,” he declared, surrounded by Hamas gunmen.

The Israeli response was more subdued.

“This time we hope the cease-fire will stick,” said Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev. He portrayed the deal as one Hamas had rejected in previous rounds of negotiations.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced some criticism from hard-line critics and residents of Israeli communities near Gaza who said the deal failed to defuse the threat from Gaza militants. Since July 8, Hamas and its allies have fired some 4,000 rockets and mortars at Israel, and tens of thousands of Israelis evacuated areas near Gaza in recent weeks.

Under the Egyptian-brokered deal, Israel is to ease imports to Gaza, including aid and material for reconstruction. It also agreed to a largely symbolic gesture, expanding a fishing zone for Gaza fishermen from 3 to 6 nautical miles into the Mediterranean.

In a month, talks are to begin on more complex issues, including Hamas’s demand to start building a seaport and airport in Gaza. Israel has said it would only agree if Hamas disarms, a demand the militant group has rejected.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said yesterday that the agreement offers “an opportunity, not a certainty.”

“Today’s agreement comes after many hours and days of negotiations and discussions. But certainly there’s a long road ahead. . . . We’re going into this eyes wide open,” she said.

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