Israel and Hamas agree to 72-hour ceasefire

Negotiations to start as ceasefire begins at 8am local-time

An Israeli soldier carries a mortar shell outside the central Gaza Strip on Thursday. A three-day ceasefire is to begin at 8am. Photograph: Reuters/Baz Ratner

An Israeli soldier carries a mortar shell outside the central Gaza Strip on Thursday. A three-day ceasefire is to begin at 8am. Photograph: Reuters/Baz Ratner

Fri, Aug 1, 2014, 00:53

Israel and Hamas have agreed to an unconditional 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire to begin at 8am today, US secretary of State John Kerry and UN general secretary Ban Ki-moon said last night.

“The United Nations representative in Jerusalem, special co-ordinator Robert Serry, has received assurances that all parties have agreed to an unconditional humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza,” Mr Kerry said, from New Delhi, in a joint statement with Mr Ban.

The ceasefire is to begin at 8am local time today and will last for 72 hours unless it is extended.

“During this time the forces on the ground will remain in place,” said the announcement, meaning that Israeli troops who have entered Gaza can remain. As soon as it takes hold, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators will head to Cairo for talks.

“We urge all parties to act with restraint until this humanitarian ceasefire begins, and to fully abide by their commitments during the ceasefire,” said the statement.

“This ceasefire is critical to giving innocent civilians a much-needed reprieve from violence. During this period, civilians in Gaza will receive urgently needed humanitarian relief, and the opportunity to carry out vital functions, including burying the dead, taking care of the injured, and restocking food supplies. Overdue repairs on essential water and energy infrastructure could also continue during this period.

“Israeli and Palestinian delegations will immediately be going to Cairo for negotiations with the government of Egypt, at the invitation of Egypt, aimed at reaching a durable ceasefire.”

– (New York Times)