Cease-fire agreements are precarious things, diplomats and Middle East experts cautioned, even as the deal between Hamas and Israel was reached on Thursday.
As the near-simultaneous announcements were made late Thursday, sirens sounded in Israeli towns bordering the Gaza Strip, indicating that militants were continuing to fire rockets as the cease-fire time neared.
After announcing the agreement on Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office warned that “the reality on the ground will determine the continuation of the campaign.”
Similarly, a Hamas spokesman, Taher al-Nono, said on Thursday, “the Palestinian resistance will abide by this agreement as long as the occupation abides by it.”
No immediate violations were reported after the cease-fire began officially at 2 a.m. local time Friday.
Still, the history of Israeli-Palestinian hostilities is littered with agreements that have failed to resolve the underlying disputes.
Past cease-fires between Israel and Hamas, the militant group that rules the Gaza Strip, have usually gone in stages, beginning with an agreement that each side will stop attacking the other, a dynamic that Israelis call “quiet for quiet.”
That means Hamas halting rocket attacks into Israel and Israel ceasing bombardment of Gaza.
Pauses in the fighting are usually followed by other steps: Israel easing its blockade of Gaza to allow humanitarian relief, fuel and other goods to enter; Hamas reining in protesters and allied militant groups that attack Israel; and both sides exchanging prisoners or those killed in action.
But bigger challenges — such as a more thorough rehabilitation of Gaza and improving relations between Israel, Hamas and Fatah, the Palestinian party that controls the West Bank — have remained elusive over the past several rounds of violence.
There is rebuilding after every cycle of violence, usually with aid from the United Nations, the European Union and Qatar, but without a permanent peace, rebuilding is always risky.
Despite the devastating toll on Palestinian civilians and the extensive damage to homes, schools and medical facilities in Gaza, the current conflict has been more limited than the wars Israel and Hamas waged in 2008 and 2014, when Israeli troops entered Gaza.
In past conflicts, fierce fighting has erupted in the days before and after cease-fires as both sides sought to strike decisive blows.
In July 2014, six days after the Israeli Army began bombarding Gaza, Egypt proposed a cease-fire that Israel agreed to. But Hamas said that it addressed none of its demands, and the cycle of rocket attacks and Israeli airstrikes resumed after less than 24 hours.
Egypt announced another cease-fire two days later, but Israel then sent in tanks and ground troops and began firing into Gaza from the sea, saying that its aim was to destroy tunnels that Hamas uses to carry out attacks. Over the next several weeks, Israeli forces periodically paused their attacks to allow humanitarian aid, but the fighting continued.
In all, nine truces came and went before the 2014 conflict ended, after 51 days, with more than 2,000 Palestinians and more than 70 Israelis killed.