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At 16:30 EDT SPIEGEL ONLINE posted an article whose title translates to Gaza conflict: Israel and Hamas agree to a 12-hour ceasefire.  This comes a few hours after Netanyahu rejected John Kerry’s proposal for a seven-day truce.

During the ceasefire is supposed to provide an opportunity for the civilian population supply itself with food and water, the hospitals to stock up on medical supplies, and international aid organizations to provide humanitarian help.

A conference in Paris is supposed to smooth the way for a longer ceasefire.  According to French diplomats it will include Laurent Fabius, the French Foreign Minister, John Kerry, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the German Foreign Minister, their colleagues from Great Britain, Italy, Qatar, and Turkey, and Catherine Ashton, the EU representative for foreign affairs.

UPDATE:  Thanks to AoT for a link to the article Israel, Hamas Agree To 12-Hour Gaza Ceasefire in The World Post; to nosleep4u for a link to the article Israel, Hamas agree to 12-hour halt in hostilities in Al Jazeera America, and to InAntalya for the link to the article Gaza conflict: Israel and Hamas begin 12-hour window in BBC News.

As noted in the comments, these articles disagree in some details with the report in SPIEGEL ONLINE; in particular, it does not appear that Netanyahu made the announcement, and I’ve changed the title accordingly..  From the BBC article, in essential agreement with the other two:

A spokesman for Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza, Sami Abu Zuhri said late on Friday that there was "national consensus on a humanitarian truce... for 12 hours on Saturday".

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) later confirmed the truce on Twitter. "We will respond if terrorists choose to exploit this time to attack IDF personnel or fire at Israeli civilians," it said in a statement.

The truce started at 8:00 local time, 5:00 GMT, 1:00 EDT.  From the BBC:
Minutes after this pause in fighting came into effect, small crowds of people could be seen out on the streets of Gaza, says the BBC's Yolande Knell.

Banks are due to open and maintenance work is being carried out to try to repair damage done to the electricity and water supplies during the recent intense Israeli bombardment, she adds.

Finally, all three articles note that the West Bank is growing increasingly restive, with demonstrations on a fairly large scale and some violent clashes.

(I apologize for not doing this earlier, but for most of the evening I’ve been out of the house.)

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