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By Laura King, Batsheva Sobelman, Los Angeles Times

After a shaky start, a new temporary truce in the Gaza Strip appeared to be holding Thursday.

The two sides, which have been holding indirect talks in Cairo, agreed late Wednesday to a five-day cease-fire, according to Palestinian negotiators and the Egyptian government, which is mediating the talks.

If the truce holds for its full duration, until Monday night, it would be the longest cessation of hostilities since fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants erupted on July 8. Israel withdrew its ground forces from Gaza last week, and the conflict has since tapered off, with occasional flare-ups.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who spoke Wednesday by telephone with President Obama, was convening his security Cabinet on Thursday to discuss the status of the ongoing talks. Israel wants Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, to disarm, and Hamas is demanding a lifting of the blockade of the coastal territory and a prisoner release.

As the previous cease-fire was winding down and the new truce taking hold, Israel was hit late Wednesday and early Thursday by a volley of missiles and responded with a series of retaliatory airstrikes. No new casualties were reported on either side.

In Gaza, many people were taking advantage of the relative calm to resume some semblance of normal life. Traffic was flowing and shops were open, although huge areas of devastation remain.

The conflict has killed more than 1,900 Palestinians in Gaza, most of them civilians, according to the United Nations and human rights groups. Sixty-four Israeli soldiers have died, along with three civilians on the Israeli side.

AFP Photo/Jack Guez

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

Rep. Jason Smith

Photo by KOMUnews is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO) wants to make sure kids are taught to be patriotic in their schools. His new bill would strip federal funding from any school that does not force them to memorize his selected historical texts.

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