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Head of the Palestinian delegation Azzam al-Ahmed gives a press conference at a hotel in Cairo late on Wednesday. / Khaled Desouki, AFP/Getty Images

A five-day extension of the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas got off to a very shaky start, as talks for a longer-term solution to the conflict in Gaza continue in Cairo.

Even as Egyptian and Palestinian officials announced that all sides had agreed to the five-day extension, violence flared up early Thursday morning as the Israeli military announced eight rockets were launched at Israel and that it had retaliated with airstrikes on Gaza.

Gaza police told the Associated Press it recorded 17 Israeli strikes but that no casualties were reported.

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev told CNN that Israel had accepted the truce, but denounced Hamas for already violating it with rocket attacks.

Sirens warned of another rocket attack along the Gaza border Thursday morning, but Israeli Defense Forces later said the sirens had been a false alarm, Haaretz reports.

President Obama spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hours before the cease-fire expired about a possible long-term truce with the Palestinians, said National Security Council spokesman Benjamin Rhodes.

It was the first time Obama and Netanyahu spoke by phone since July 27. The two leaders spoke three times between July 10 and July 27.

Hamas is demanding the end of the blockade that was imposed on Gaza in 2007 by Israel and Egypt. Israel wants Hamas to disarm before agreeing to any long-term deal.

In Cairo, Hamas official Izzat al-Rishiq said agreement on some key points had been reached but that more time was needed to reach full agreement on the final language of the deal.

"We are holding onto our demands to open the seaport and the airport in Gaza so we can end the blockade once and for all," al-Rishiq was quoted as saying by AP, referring to what has been a key Hamas demand in the talks.

The fighting, which began July 8, has resulted in 67 Israeli casualties, including two civilians and a Thai guest worker, and at least 1,951 Palestinians deaths, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Israel says about a third of the Palestinian deaths are militants.

Contributing: Oren Dorell; The Associated Press



Copyright 2014USAToday

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