22 Nov 2012

Ceasefire in Gaza

12:56 pm on 22 November 2012

A ceasefire in Gaza agreed by Israel and Hamas has been in force since 1900 GMT on Wednesday.

Israel has agreed to end all hostilities and targeted killings, while Hamas will stop attacks against Israel and along the border.

Both sides continued to fire on each other as the deadline approached, but no major breaches have been reported.

Gunmen fired into the air in Gaza in celebration after the deal was announced.

Israeli police said a handful of rockets were fired out of Gaza after the ceasefire, but no injuries or damage were reported.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr made the announcement in a joint news conference in Cairo with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"Egypt has made great efforts ... since the start of the latest escalation in the Gaza Strip," Mr Amr said.

"These efforts and contacts have resulted in understandings to cease fire and restore calm and halt the bloodshed that the last period has seen," he added.

"Egypt calls on all to monitor the implementation of what has been agreed under Egypt's sponsorship and to guarantee the commitment of all the parties to what has been agreed," Mr Amr said.

The BBC reports both sides continued to fire on each other as the ceasefire deadline approached.

Details of deal

Israel has agreed to end all hostilities and targeted killings, while Hamas will stop attacks against Israel and along the border.

The text of the deal says:

Israel has agreed to "stop all hostilities on the Gaza Strip, land, sea and air including incursions and targeting of individuals".

"All Palestinian factions shall stop all hostilities from the Gaza Strip against Israel, including rocket attacks, and attacks along the border," it stipulates.

A statement from the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had agreed to a US suggestion "to give a chance to Egypt's proposal for a ceasefire and so give an opportunity to stabilise the situation and calm it before there will be need to apply greater force".

For the truce to hold, Mrs Clinton said, "the rocket attacks (from Gaza) must end and a broader calm must return".

More funding for missile defences

US President Barack Obama praised the Israeli leader for accepting the deal and said he would seek additional funding for the Iron Dome missile defence system, which destroyed dozens of rockets from Gaza in mid-air during the past week.

He also thanked Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi for his efforts.

The BBC reports ties between Hamas and Egypt have strengthened since Mr Mursi was elected earlier this year. Hamas was formed as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, to which Mr Mursi belongs.

Israel began the offensive a week ago with the killing of Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari. More than 150 Palestinians and five Israelis have since been killed.