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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has announced that Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire Wednesday, ending eight days of violence and ensuring that a ground war will not break out in the Gaza Strip.

Sec. Clinton announced the ceasefire, which will take effect at 9pm local time (2pm EST) at a press conference with her Egyptian counterpart, Foreign Minister Mohamed Amr. According to NBC News’ Jim Maceda, the agreement calls for a truce to stop the violence in the short term, and for continuing negotiations on the broader issues spurring the conflict in the long term. Furthermore, NBC’s Andy Eckhardt reports that Israel will guarantee to halt the targeted assassinations of Hamas leaders as part of the agreement.

“This is a critical moment for the region,” Clinton declared. “The people of this region deserve the chance to live free from fear and violence.”

She added that the agreement will “improve conditions for the people of Gaza and provide security for the people of Israel.”

Clinton also thanked Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi for “assuming the leadership that has long made this country a cornerstone of regional stability and peace.”

The deal halts over a week of fighting, which killed over 140 people. A ceasefire was rumored to be imminent on Tuesday, but ongoing violence — and Hamas’ demands for unfettered access to Gaza — delayed an agreement.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that more military activity could be necessary.

“But at this time the right thing for the state of Israel is to exhaust this opportunity to obtain a long-term cease fire,” he said.

As of an hour after the ceasefire began, the only explosions being reported from Gaza City were celebratory gunfire.

 

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