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Palestinian children, one holding a poster with a picture of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, sit next to candles forming the number 848, which they say signals the number of Palestinians killed in the ongoing war, and the word "Gaza" in Arabic at a protest in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Friday.

12-Hour Cease-Fire Begins In Gaza

By Bill Chappell NPR

Updated 3:03 a.m.

A humanitarian cease-fire went into effect on Saturday, a plan agreed to hours earlier by Hamas and Israeli leaders. The truce would allow Palestinian civilians to get food and aid where it’s needed, and would last for 12 hours, officials say.

The Associated Press reported that the Israeli military warned that it “shall respond if terrorists choose to exploit” the lull to attack Israeli troops or civilians.

News of the truce came after prolonged U.S. attempts on Friday to broker a lasting peace deal between the two sides who have been fighting for more than two weeks.

Emily Harris reported for our Newscast unit:

“Secretary of State John Kerry left Cairo after a day of negotiations, saying he has the basic outlines of a longer truce. He’ll continue negotiations with various parties in Paris on Saturday.

“Israel says a longer-term cease-fire must include destroying tunnels Hamas built to sneak in to Israel. Hamas wants an end to the economic blockade Israel and Egypt impose on the Gaza Strip.

“Regardless of intentions for Saturday, late Friday night, strikes in the Gaza Strip continued.

“The number of dead on both sides rose Friday, as Israel announced one more soldier had been killed and another previously categorized as missing was dead. Palestinian health officials said the death toll in Gaza had passed 850 people.”

Earlier Friday, Kerry rejected talk of Israel rejecting a U.S.-brokered truce as “mischief” from people who don’t want the hostilities to end.

“They may have rejected some language or suggestion, but there was no formal proposal submitted by me on which a vote was ripe,” Kerry said.

According to the BBC, reports of Saturday’s 12-hour truce came “shortly after Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon warned that ground operations in Gaza could soon be broadened ‘significantly.’ ”

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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