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November 22, 2012

Egyptian-Mediated Israel-Hamas Truce Terms Detailed

by Michael Lipin

A cease-fire between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas appeared to be holding Thursday, a day after the Egyptian-brokered agreement came into force, ending an eight-day Israeli offensive against Gaza-based militants.

A text of the agreement was released Wednesday by the Egyptian presidency. The agreement calls on Israel to stop all attacks on Gaza, including targeting of individuals by air, sea and land.  It also requires "all Palestinian factions" to stop all hostilities toward Israel from Gaza, including rocket fire and attacks along the Gaza-Israel border.

Another clause of the agreement calls on parties in the region to open Gaza's border crossings, "facilitate" movements of people and goods and "refrain" from targeting residents in border areas. The text does not specify who should open the border crossings and what types of movements will be permitted.

Follow-through

​​The document said the parties would discuss procedures for implementing the cease-fire 24 hours after it takes effect, at 9:00 p.m. Thursday local time [1600 UTC].

Egypt declared itself the sponsor of the deal and called on Israel and Hamas to uphold their commitments. It said both sides must inform the Egyptian government of any "observations" about the truce to allow Cairo to "follow up."

Israel has not confirmed any of the cease-fire terms. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday, though, that he secured a commitment from U.S. President Barack Obama to cooperate in fighting the smuggling of Iranian weapons to Gaza militants. Israel has said many of those weapons are smuggled through Egypt's Sinai Peninsula before reaching Gaza by underground tunnels.

Egypt has not said whether it will take any action against weapons smuggling to Gaza. The issue was not mentioned in the Egyptian cease-fire document.

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Negotiating terms

Both Israel and Hamas have said they will stick to the truce provided the other side does the same. Each side also has warned, however, that it is ready to resume fighting if the other violates the truce.

Hamas has long demanded that Israel remove all restrictions on the passage of people and goods into Gaza, and end a naval blockade of the territory, saying such Israeli measures constitute a siege and violation of Palestinian rights. Gaza also shares a border with Egypt, which allows limited movements of people and goods across the boundary.

Israeli authorities have expanded the variety of goods permitted to enter Gaza via land in recent years, but they have maintained restrictions on items they say could be used by militants to make weapons for attacking Israel. Israel also has said the naval blockade is needed to prevent weapons from being shipped to Gaza.