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Monday, May 20, 2013
- The Egyptian foreign minister has announced that a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in and around the Gaza Strip will come into effect at 19:00 GMT on Wednesday.
Mohamed Kamel Amr thanked all parties involved in brokering the truce as he made the announcement in a joint news conference with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.
Al Jazeera’s Peter Greste, reporting from Cairo, stressed that “the devil is in the details” of the agreement.
“It will be the details that will determine whether this is just a pause in hostilities … or something that leads to a lasting solution.”
He said both the U.S. and Egypt had played crucial roles in sealing the deal – Egypt with its capability of having direct talks with Hamas, and the Americans through their influence on Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to “give a chance” to the ceasefire, a statement from his office said.
“A short while ago Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke with [US] President Barack Obama and agreed to his recommendation to give a chance to an Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire and thereby give an opportunity for the stabilisation of the situation and a calming of it,” it said.
Before the announcement in Egypt, Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip continued for an eighth day.
Twenty people were killed in Gaza on Wednesday, according to medical officials, bringing the death toll to a total of 150 since Israel’s military operation was launched. Seven children were among those killed.
“It’s been a very difficult day for the people of Gaza,” Al Jazeera’s Nicole Johnston, in Gaza City, said.
She said there had been “very heavy bombardment” from naval vessels in addition to aerial attacks.
Israel said it struck more than 100 targets, including a cluster of Hamas government buildings.
Clinton and U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon, who both met Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi on Wednesday, have been shuttling between Egypt, Israel and the occupied West Bank in a bid to bolster a proposed ceasefire agreement that Cairo brokered between Israel and the Hamas movement that controls the Gaza Strip.
In Wednesday’s press conference with Amr, Clinton said: “The United States welcomes the agreement today for a ceasefire. In the days ahead, the United States will work with partners in the region to consolidate this progress.”
The announcement came after 24 people were wounded in an explosion on a bus in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv that Israel and the U.S. described as a “terror attack”.
Five Israelis have been killed by rockets fired from Gaza since Nov. 14. Israel says it launched its offensive on Gaza to prevent fighters from firing missiles into its territory.
Palestinians fighters fired more than 30 rockets at Israel on Wednesday, causing no casualties, and the anti-missile system, the so-called Iron Dome, shot down 14 of them, police said.
Nearly 1,400 rockets have been fired into Israel since the military offensive began, according to the Israeli military. Israel has carried out more than 1,500 strikes on Gaza during the same time period.
*Published under an agreement with Al Jazeera.