JERUSALEM - Israelis and Palestinians skeptically welcomed a second peaceful day of a cease-fire yesterday, soaking up the sun at beaches and markets while warily predicting that their newfound quiet would be brief.
The Egyptian-mediated truce in Gaza went into effect Thursday, halting daily Palestinian rocket attacks against southern Israeli towns and communities and Israeli counter-raids and airstrikes against Hamas militants in Gaza.
The six-month deal is meant to end attacks that have killed more than 400 Palestinians and seven Israelis since the Islamic Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip a year ago, and pave the way toward wider-reaching agreements.
If it succeeds, Israel will ease its blockade on Gaza in stages and negotiations will resume on the release of an Israeli soldier held for two years by Hamas-linked forces and on opening the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt.
In Gaza, residents said they took to the streets freely with their children yesterday for the first time in recent memory.
"This was the first night in a long time that there was relative calm, but we wonder how long will it last?" said Fadya Shaheen, 50, a mother of three. "We don't hear the sound of strikes anymore, but the situation is still the same. There is nothing new. . . . The calm seems fragile."
Israelis on the front lines were equally skeptical.
"Today was quiet, but that doesn't mean anything. They still have their stocks of weapons as well as not-too-nice plans for us," said Adina Mastbaum, a mother of four in Sderot. The town of 24,000 people less than a mile from Gaza has borne the brunt of Palestinian rocket attacks in the past seven years.
More than 1,000 projectiles have exploded in the town in the past year alone, leaving jittery residents cautious about their safety.
"If I felt something was dangerous yesterday, I feel it is still dangerous today," Mastbaum said. "There have been a lot of cease-fires in the past and it hasn't changed anything."
The last truce, in November 2006, lasted only a few weeks.
A poll published yesterday shows most Israelis back the deal but doubt it will stick. The poll in the Yediot Ahronot daily said 56 percent of Israelis support the truce.
But 79 percent said they do not believe or are inclined not to believe that it will last for long.
Seventy-eight percent of those questioned also told pollsters from the Dahaf Institute that the agreement should have been made contingent on the release of the captive soldier Gilad Schalit.