Israel and Palestinian militants reach Gaza cease-fire

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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- A cease-fire is in place, ending eight days of fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza.

The militant rocket attacks and Israeli airstrikes stopped at 9 p.m. local time, but not before a final spasm of violence claimed one more life. In all, 161 Palestinians, including dozens of civilians, were killed as Israeli forces carried out more than 1,500 strikes on Gaza. Five Israelis died as militants pounded Israel with more than 1,000 rockets.

After the truce went into effect, Palestinian gunmen fired in the air, while families who had sought shelter at U.N.-run schools in Gaza cheered and clapped.

The deal was brokered by Egypt's new Islamist government after two days of intense shuttle diplomacy by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and others. Under the agreement, Egypt will play a key role in maintaining the peace.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the cease-fire agreement with Gaza's Hamas rulers will allow Israeli civilians to get back to their lives. He left the door open to a future ground invasion of Gaza, but said "the right thing" is for state of Israel "to take this opportunity to reach a lasting ceasefire."

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