US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr announcing the truce at a joint press conference in Cairo, yesterday.
CAIRO/GAZA: Israel and the Islamist Hamas movement agreed yesterday to an Egyptian-sponsored ceasefire to halt an eight-day conflict around the Gaza Strip that has killed more than 140 Palestinians and five Israelis.
A flurry of explosions shook the city of Gaza as the truce deadline approached and several rockets landed in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba.
Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr of Egypt, which brokered the ceasefire in days of marathon talks, announced the cessation of hostilities at a joint news conference in Cairo with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The accord calls on Israel to “stop all hostilities... in the land, sea and air including incursions and targeting of individuals” and urges the Palestinian factions to end “rocket attacks and all attacks along the border”. If it holds, within 24 hours, Israel would be required to start implementing procedures to open Gaza’s border crossings and allow the movement of people and goods.
Clinton thanked Egypt’s new Islamist President Mohammed Mursi for his peace efforts, saying his government was assuming “responsibility, leadership” in the region. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told US President Barack Obama he was ready to give the ceasefire a chance, but that “more forceful action” might be needed if it failed, according to a statement from his office.
The ceasefire was forged despite a bus bomb explosion that wounded 15 Israelis in Tel Aviv earlier in the day and despite more Israeli air strikes that killed 10 Gazans.