Continued from page 1

“The president said that the United States would use the opportunity offered by a cease-fire to intensify efforts to help Israel address its security needs, especially the issue of the smuggling of weapons and explosives into Gaza,” the White House added.

Mr. Obama promised the Israeli leader additional U.S. funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system that shot down incoming rockets. The system destroyed at least 360 Palestinian rockets and deflected others.

Most of the 1,400 missiles fired from Gaza landed harmlessly, although five Israelis died in the conflict.

Israel flew more than 1,500 airstrikes, killing 161 Palestinians. Israeli officials said most of those killed were Hamas terrorists, although others were civilians.

Both sides continued the fight up to the minute the truce took effect at 9 p.m. local time (2 p.m. EST).

The Israeli army, which had moved tens of thousands of troops to the border with Gaza, said the military’s Operation Pillar of Defense “accomplished its predetermined objective” and “inflicted severe damage to Hamas and its military capabilities.”

Mr. Netanyahu left open the option for a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip if the cease-fire fails.

“I know there are citizens that expected a wider military operation, and it could be it will be needed,” he said. “But at this time, the right thing to do for the state of Israel is to take this opportunity to reach a lasting cease-fire.”

The Cairo agreement requires Israel to end airstrikes and targeted assassinations of suspected terrorists in Gaza and for Hamas to stop shelling Israel and trying to send terrorists across the border.

Future talks will deal with Hamas‘ demands for Israel to lift the embargo imposed on the territory five years ago, when Hamas seized power and started attacking Israel.

Israel also is demanding an end to the flow of weapons into the Gaza Strip. Iran has been Hamas‘ chief arms supplier.

Bus bombing in Tel Aviv

Earlier in the day, Israeli residents of Tel Aviv were worried that Palestinian terrorists were opening another front in the conflict after a bomb exploded on a bus. Twenty-two people were injured.

The bomb was left on the bus by a terrorist who fled. By evening, police hinted that the bomber had come from the West Bank, not the coastal Gaza Strip, and that he might be in custody.

The conflict erupted Nov. 14, when Israel killed Hamas‘ military commander, Ahmed Jaabari.

Story Continues →