Israel, Palestinians accept Egypt's 72-hour truce
Israel and Hamas have agreed to an Egyptian-proposed ceasefire to end four weeks of fighting in the Gaza Strip, while Jerusalem was rocked by two attacks that appeared to be a backlash to the violence.
Egypt's plan called for a 72-hour-long truce to begin at 0500 GMT on Tuesday and then for representatives of Israeli and Palestinian factions to attend talks in Cairo to negotiate a longer-term agreement.
Palestinian groups, including envoys of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, met the head of Egyptian intelligence in Cairo earlier on Monday to formulate a plan to end the violence.
A few hours later, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet agreed to accept Egypt's proposal, an official in his office said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"Israel has notified Egypt of its acceptance of its proposal for a ceasefire," the official said.
Afterward, Hamas Islamists who dominate Gaza announced their agreement to the truce as well.
"Hamas told Egypt a short while ago of its acceptance of a 72-hour period of calm," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters.
Israel launched its offensive on July 8 following a surge in Hamas rocket salvoes. It escalated from air and naval barrages to overland incursions centred on Gaza's tunnel-riddled eastern frontier, but also pushed into densely populated towns.
Gaza officials say 1,834 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed, and more than a quarter of the impoverished enclave's 1.8 million residents displaced. As many as 3,000 Palestinian homes have been destroyed or damaged.
Israel has lost 64 soldiers in combat and three civilians to Palestinian cross-border rocket and mortar fire that has emptied many of its southern villages. "Iron Dome" missile interceptors, air raid sirens and public shelters have helped stem Israeli casualties.
Tensions from the fighting seemed to spread to Jerusalem, where a Palestinian driving an excavator ran over and killed an Israeli and then overturned a bus in what police described as a terrorist or nationalistically motivated attack.
Israeli police shot the excavator driver dead; there were no passengers on the bus.
Several hours later, a gunman shot and wounded an Israeli soldier a short distance away before fleeing on a motorcycle, police said.