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Israel, Hamas agree to 5-hour ceasefire

Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas have agreed to a United Nations request for a 5-hour suspension of hostilities in and around the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

The Israeli military announced on Wednesday that it will suspend its offensive for 5 hours from 10 AM on Thursday. Hamas also said it will stop rocket attacks on Israel at the same time.

The agreement comes after a ceasefire proposal mediated by Egypt was rejected earlier in the week by Hamas.

On Wednesday, the Israeli military bombarded Hamas facilities in Gaza and staged naval attacks along its coast.

The Palestinian death toll from a series of military attacks by Israel has so far surpassed 200. Around 20,000 people who fled their homes to escape Israel's aerial bombardments are living under increasingly unsanitary conditions.

The temporary truce is intended to allow the evacuees to return home to gather daily necessities.

But the Israeli military says it will respond should Hamas resume rocket attacks from Gaza.

It remains uncertain whether the envisioned temporary suspension of hostilities will lead to negotiations for a full-fledged ceasefire.

Jul. 17, 2014 - Updated 05:13 UTC