Israel and Hamas on Monday accepted an Egyptian cease-fire proposal meant to halt a monthlong war, signaling an end to the bloodiest round of fighting between the bitter enemies could finally be approaching.
The sides said a preliminary 72-hour truce was to begin at 8 a.m. (0500 GMT) Tuesday. Egypt was then set to host indirect talks to work out a long-term truce over the next three days.
A delegation of Palestinian officials from various factions, including Hamas, has been negotiating with Egypt in recent days.
The war broke out on July 8 when Israel launched an air campaign in response to heavy rocket fire out of Hamas-controlled Gaza. Israel expanded the operation by sending in ground forces on July 17 in what it described as a mission to destroy a network of tunnels used by Hamas militants to stage attacks. The army said it is close to destroying the last of the tunnels.
Several previous cease-fires have collapsed, including a similar plan for a 72-hour truce that broke down last Friday in heavy fighting. Both sides blamed each other.
An Israeli official said Israel would respect the cease-fire, but that it was watching the negotiations "with a certain amount of skepticism" given the previous failures.
He spoke on condition of anonymity pending a formal announcement by the Israeli government.