Israel, Hamas truce comes into effect

2012-11-21 21:42

Gaza City - The truce agreed to by Israel and Hamas to end the conflict in the Gaza Strip, came into effect on Wednesday night after eight days of the fiercest fighting in nearly four years.

The deal was brokered by the new Egyptian government, solidifying its role as a leader in the quickly-shifting Middle East after two days of intense shuttle diplomacy that saw US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton race to the region. Under the agreement, Egypt will play a key role in maintaining the peace.

Standing next to Clinton, Egypt's foreign minister, Mohammed Kamel Amr, announced the breakthrough and said the deal, capping days of intense efforts that drew the world's top diplomats into the fray.

The agreement will "improve conditions for the people of Gaza and provide security for the people of Israel", Clinton said at the news conference in Cairo.

In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said he agreed to the cease-fire after consulting with US President Barack Obama.

Israel launched the fierce Israeli offensive in Gaza on 14 November to stop months of intensifying rocket attacks. Even after the deal was announced, air raid sirens continued to wail in southern Israel.

Last-minute rocket fire

In the last-minute burst of fire, Palestinian militants fired several bursts of rockets, Israeli authorities said. One rocket hit a house in the southern city of Beersheba, police said. No injuries were reported.

Israel launched well over 1 500 airstrikes and other attacks on targets in Gaza, while more than 1 000 rockets pounded Israel. In all, more than 140 Palestinians, including dozens of civilians, were killed, while five Israelis died in the fighting.

According to a copy of the agreement obtained by The Associated Press, Israel and all Palestinian militant groups agreed to halt "all hostilities".

For the Palestinians, that means an end to Israeli airstrikes and assassinations of wanted militants. For Israel, it brings a halt to rocket fire and attempts at cross-border incursions from Gaza.

After a 24-hour cooling off period, it calls for "opening the crossings and facilitating the movement of people and transfer of goods, and refraining from restricting residents free movement".

Hamas officials said details on the new border arrangements would have to be negotiated.

Under the agreement, Egypt will play a key role. It said "Egypt shall receive assurances from each party" that they are committed to the deal.

"Each party shall commit itself not to perform any acts that would break this understanding," it adds. "In case of any observations, Egypt - as the sponsor of this understanding - shall be informed to follow up."

The agreement came after Clinton shuttled across the region to help broker an end to the violence.

She ended her meetings in Cairo, where Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi mediated between Israel and Hamas.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon also flew across the region as part of the diplomatic cease-fire push.

  • kaapse.skollie.7 - 2012-11-21 21:53

    Good news, but it's only a temporary measure until the land issues surface again.

      PrettyUsefulArt - 2012-11-21 22:07

      Yes, I agree. Very good news indeed. Would be such a shame if you were right, which you probably are. *sigh*

      moses.mabhida.52 - 2012-11-22 00:20

      Hamas already firing rockets.... No such thing as peace in the so called religion of peace.

  • xolani.ndimba - 2012-11-21 22:04

    Great news. Thanks to the people of Israel,the Palestinians, Clinton (Nomkhitha) and Egypt. A day without fighting/bombig means a lot for the families on both sides.

  • nervern - 2012-11-21 22:10

    This lady on my fb claims they are still firing rockets at israel...while they dance in gaza coz they have non coming their way...

      bas.bas.522 - 2012-11-21 23:24

      Yes the rockets are on timers - can't turn them off because of Israeli drones overhead.If you go near them the IAF will take you out.

  • grant.montgomery.5074 - 2012-11-21 22:17

    I wonder who'll be the first to break the cease fire. My mony is on Hamas.

      kaapse.skollie.7 - 2012-11-21 22:57

      Keep your money in your pocket. According to Reuters, this last conflict was started by an 'unarmed mentally unfit' Palestinian who wondered too close to a border fence and was shot dead by Israeli soldiers on November 4.

      moses.mabhida.52 - 2012-11-22 00:23

      Only peaceful Muslims... Watch how Muslims butcher each other in Syria, Libia or baharain....these people are a violent cult.

  • kaapse.skollie.7 - 2012-11-21 22:47

    Really impressed by Egypt as mediator. Obama and clinton were pro-israel. Turkey was pro-Palestine. UN was useless as usual. Only Egypt showed credibility. New president must take a bow.

  • matthew.mitchell.gordon - 2012-11-21 22:49

    "In all, more than 140 Palestinians, including dozens of civilians, were killed, while five Israelis died in the fighting." because Hamas are not killers, Israeli's just die?? shame on you you biased one side reporters! #ReportFactsNotopinions

  • joshua.mcallister.75 - 2012-11-22 04:32

    Hamas are reportedly, and believably, still firing rockets into Israel. Why am I not surprised...

  • Rashida Patel - 2012-11-22 05:08

    Well done ,egypt ..sadly cease fire just words,bcos of apartheid israel lust for violence and land

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