Gaza truce: Ban warns of 'challenges'

2012-11-21 22:45
(Bernat Armangue, AP)

(Bernat Armangue, AP)

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Amman - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement to stick to pledges under a ceasefire deal which came into effect on Wednesday night to end the bloody eight-day conflict around the Gaza Strip.

"We urge the parties who agreed to the ceasefire to keep their promises.

"There may be challenges implementing this agreement," Ban told reporters after talks with King Abdullah at the monarch's residence in the Jordanian capital.

Ban urged the two sides to exercise "maximum restraint". 

AFP reported from Gaza City that Palestinians took to the streets to celebrate the start of the truce deal with Israel, firing into the air and chanting victory slogans.

Heavy celebratory gunfire could be heard throughout the Gaza Strip, and residents also released fireworks into the night sky, where Israeli drones could still be heard buzzing overhead.

"The resistance has triumphed," some shouted, alongside chants of "God is greatest."

In the minutes leading up the beginning of the ceasefire, heavy outgoing and incoming fire could be heard, but it appeared to have stopped after the deadline took effect.

The truce accord, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, calls on Israel to "stop all hostilities... in the land, sea and air including incursions and targeting of individuals".

It also urges the Palestinian factions to end "rocket attacks and all attacks along the border".

Earlier, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted that if the Egyptian-brokered truce did not work, Israel would consider "more severe military action" against the Palestinian territory.

"I know there are citizens expecting a more severe military action, and perhaps we shall need to do so."

Read more on:    un  |  benjamin netanyahu  |  ban ki-moon  |  palestine  |  israel  |  gaza strip  |  middle east peace

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