SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – A ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians to end the seven week war in Gaza seems to be holding. Israel said it dealt a strong blow to Hamas, killing several of its military leaders and destroying the group’s cross-border infiltration tunnels. But Israel faced strong resistance including rocket fire for nearly two months that caused an exodus from border communities and became part of daily life in its commercial heartland.
Palestinian and Egyptian officials said the deal, which was mediated in Cairo and took effect on Tuesday evening, called for an indefinite halt to hostilities, the immediate opening of Gaza’s blockaded crossings with Israel and Egypt and a widening of the territory’s fishing zone in the Mediterranean.
A senior official of Hamas voiced willingness for the security forces of Western-backed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the unity government he formed in June to control the passage points. Under a second stage of the truce that would begin a month later, Israel and the Palestinians would discuss the construction of a Gaza sea port and Israel’s release of Hamas prisoners in the occupied West Bank, possibly in a trade for body parts of two Israeli soldiers believed held by Hamas, the officials said.
After the ceasefire began, crowds and traffic filled the streets of Gaza. Car horns blared and recorded chants praising God sounded from mosque loudspeakers. “Today we declare the victory of the resistance, today we declare the victory of Gaza,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said. The United States and United Nations urged both sides to comply with the terms of the agreement.
“We are all aware that this is an opportunity, not a certainty,” said US Secretary of State John Kerry. “We have been down this road before and we are all aware of the challenges ahead.” Palestinian health officials say 2139 people, most of them civilians, including more than 490 children, have been killed in the enclave since July 8, when Israel launched an offensive with the declared aim of ending rocket salvoes.
Source: Sydney Morning Herald