The ceasefire between Hamas and Israel has begun at 0600 (0300 GMT), despite a last minute flurry of cross-border attacks.
The terms of the truce say that Israel will ease its blockade on Gaza and the talks to release an Israeli soldier held by Hamas are expected to resume.
Ehud Olmert (photo), Israeli prime minister, has already warned that the truce will be fragile.
On Wednesday, at least 40 rockets and mortars were fired from Gaza at Israel, and Israel carried out air strikes.
After losing several members to Israeli air strikes in recent days, Islamic Jihad, another militant group, claimed responsibility for some of the attacks.
Near Gaza’s border fence, a Palestinian gunman was killed and three other were wounded by an Israeli missile strike, just an hour before the truce came into effect.
BBC’s Aleem Maqbool in Gaza says the key questions are :
- Will Hamas be able to keep control over all of the disparate militant groups that fire rockets over the border?
- Will those groups be able to show restraint should there be any Palestinian deaths in the West Bank – where this ceasefire does not apply?
“We will respect the truce but if the Israeli side violates the truce at any time Islamic Jihad resolves the right to respond at any time”, said Khaled Batsh (photo), a senior leader of the group.
He added that the group would respond if an Islamic Jihad was killed in the West Bank. It would entail rocket fire from Gaza, suggests BBC’s correspondent.
Hamas, Palestinian Islamist movement which controls Gaza, pronounced itself confident that all militants would abide by the Egypt-brokered truce, supposed to last six months.
The fragility of the agreement has been underlined by the eve-of-truce cross-border attacks, said BBC’s correspondents.
The last Gaza ceasefire took place in November 2006 and was unravelled quickly.
In June 2007, Hamas seized control of Gaza, driving out forces loyal to Fatah, the political faction led by Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas (photo).
Then, Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the international community have sought to isolate Hamas.
The truce will be fragile and could be short-lived, has said Ehud Olmert. He added that even though Israel would abide by the ceasefire, its armed forces were ready to act, if cross-border rocket attacks continued.
“We should not have illusions. The terror organisations, and Hamas among them, have not changed their goals.”
“The calm is going to bring stability to Israel if they commit themselves to it”, said Ismail Haniya, the Hamas leader in Gaza.
A breakdown of the truce released by Hamas said on Friday morning, Israel will ease restrictions on the trade of certain goods between Gaza and Israel, and open up the crossings for all commercial goods next week.
Talks involving Israel, Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and the EU will start, on reopening the Rafah crossing into Egypt.
And Israeli security sources say that negotiations are supposed to resume in a few days, concerning the return of Gilad Shalit, Israeli soldier captured in Gaza in June 2006.