Israel and Hamas begin indefinite ceasefire in Gaza Strip


Israel and Hamas have agreed to an indefinite ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, ending seven weeks of intense fighting in the region.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said: "We have responded to the Egyptian proposal for a complete and comprehensive cease-fire, which starts at 19:00 Cairo time.

"There will be a complete stop in fighting."

Apart from an indefinite stop to fighting, the interim agreement also calls for the opening of Gaza's blockaded crossings with Israel and Egypt to allow in aid and construction materials, and an extension of the territory's fishing zone in the Mediterranean.

While Hamas declared the deal as a 'victory for the resistance,' Israel gave a low-key response, saying the group finally accepted the same proposal that it had rejected in July.

Israeli Government spokesman Mark Regev was quoted by CNN as saying: "We hope that this time, the ceasefire will stick.

"And I think now, as the dust will begin to clear, many people will be asking: Why is it that today Hamas accepted the very same Egyptian framework that it rejected a month ago?

"Ultimately, so much bloodshed could have been avoided."

"The blockade of Gaza must end; and Israel's legitimate security concerns must be addressed."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the truce saying: "A brighter future for Gaza and for Israel depends on a sustainable ceasefire.

"Any peace effort that does not tackle the root causes of the crisis will do little more than set the stage for the next cycle of violence.

"The blockade of Gaza must end; and Israel's legitimate security concerns must be addressed."

Israeli and Hamas officials are set to meet in Cairo within a month to discuss more complex issues, including Hamas' demand to start construction of a seaport and airport in Gaza, and Israel's call for the militant group to disarm.

Israel claims that Hamas continued rocket launches in Eshkol Regional Council up to the final minute before the truce, which killed an Israeli civilian and wounded six others.

At least 2,133 Palestinians and 68 Israelis are believed to have died since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge in Gaza on 8 July.

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