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Temporary truce agreed in Gaza, reports

Palestinian sources say a new temporary ceasefire has been agreed until 8pm tonight as Cairo talks continue
A man walks through the rubble in Gaza as new ceasefire possibly reached (AFP)

A temporary halt to hostilities between Hamas and Israel has been agreed, local media reported on Friday.

The short-term deal will last until 8pm local time (1700 GMT) and is intended to give the Israelis and the Palestinians more time to reach a lasting deal, Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported.

The report cites unnamed, but “well placed” sources in Cairo.

The two sides have "agreed to almost all main points that need a solution" through indirect talks, the source said.

Only "limited" disagreements remain and deal has been hashed out "on the majority of the subjects concerning the Palestinians," the source added.

The news comes after a 72-hour ceasefire expired early on Friday morning and Hamas and Israel both resumed their campaigns.

After the truce ended, Israeli warplanes struck targets across Gaza, killing a child, while Hamas also sent a barrage of rockets toward Israel.

However, Egypt, which has been mediating indirect talks between Israelis and Palestinians, had continued to stress that the negotiations were making progress, despite the violence.

The head of the Palestinian delegation in Cairo also said they were committed to achieving a truce, although Israel warned that it would not negotiate under fire.

The latest flare-up in fighting has already pushed many Palestinians to leave their homes. Hundreds of residents left war-torn Shejaiaiya while an AFP correspondent and witnesses said residents in eastern Gaza City were also leaving their homes in fear of possible Israeli retaliatory attacks.

Tough talks

Despite the latest reports, the Cairo talks have thus far hit various obstacles. All Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip refused to extend a three-day truce with Israel as the 72-hour ceasefire ended, Hamas said.

"All the Palestinian factions, including Hamas, have agreed not to renew the ceasefire because (Israel) is refusing to accommodate our demands, but negotiations continue in Cairo," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum told AFP.

The Islamic Jihad's armed wing, the al-Quds Brigade fired rockets at Ashkelon in Israel minutes after a 72-hour truce between Hamas and the Israel ended without agreement to extend it, the army said.

"Since 08:00 IDT (0500 GMT), terrorists fired a barrage of at least five rockets at southern Israel. A rocket was intercepted over Ashkelon," the military said in a statement.

"Additional rockets hit open areas in southern Israel," the army said, putting the number at over 10.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has since ordered the military to retaliate "forcefully to the Hamas breach of the ceasefire".

Israel’s Economy Minister Naftali Bennett also called on the government to recall its delegation from Cairo immediately in light of the rocket fire.

"Firing on Israeli citizens as a way of exerting pressure is a test of Israeli deterrence for years to come," Bennett said. "The response must be firm."        

"I remind the Israeli public that Operation Protective Edge has not yet ended and Hamas has not been defeated. Israelis must be strong and prepared for what is to come."