News / Middle East

Israel, Hamas Agree to 72-hour Ceasefire

  • Hajar Muharram, 5, sits in a classroom where the family of seven now live, at a U.N. school, in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, Thursday, July 31, 2014.
  • Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon (L) attend a cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv July 31, 2014.
  • A woman carries a bag of food supplies that she received from a United Nations food distribution center in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip July 31, 2014.
  • People pray next to the bodies of Palestinians from the al-Silk family during their funeral in Gaza City July 31, 2014.
  • Heygar Jendiyah, left, points to where the family house kitchen once stood, partially destroyed by a previous air strike, as her children Ranin, 10, center, and Helmi, right, listen, in the Sabra neighborhood of Gaza City, northern Gaza Strip,
  • An Israeli soldier stands atop an armored vehicle at a staging area near the border with the Gaza Strip July 31, 2014.
  • Israeli soldiers carry cases at a staging area near the border with the Gaza Strip July 31, 2014
  • Israeli tanks at a staging area near the border with the Gaza Strip July 31, 2014.
VOA News

Israel and Islamist militant group Hamas have agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire in their conflict in the Gaza Strip starting on Friday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday.

The ceasefire will begin at 8 a.m. local time (0500 GMT) on Aug. 1, they said in a joint statement. The statement said “forces on the ground will remain in place” during the truce, implying that Israeli ground forces will not withdraw.

Speaking from New Delhi, Kerry said neither side will advance militarily from their current positions, but that Israel will continue to destroy tunnels Hamas has used to smuggle weapons and fighters into Israel.

Kerry calls the next 72 hours a precious time for all parties to address the issues that brought on the last three weeks of violence. He says the people of Gaza deserve to live in safety and dignity, while Israel's security concerns need to be met.

Hamas, the dominant militant group in the Gaza Strip, said it would abide by the ceasefire.

“Acknowledging a call by the United Nations and in consideration of the situation of our people, resistance factions agreed to a 72-hour humanitarian and mutual calm that begins at 8 a.m (0500 GMT) on Friday as long as the other side abides by it,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters.

“All the Palestinian factions are united behind the issue in this regard,” he said.

Israeli and Palestinian delegations will immediately travel to Cairo for negotiations with the Egyptian government to reach a durable ceasefire, the statement said.

Fighting continued, however, overnight. Hamas said it fired rockets at Israel, setting off air raid sirens in the area of Tel Aviv. Residents of Gaza reported further Israeli shelling.

Destruction of Tunnels

Earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had said that Israel was determined, regardless of cease-fire efforts, to finish the destruction of tunnels that Palestinian militants have built under the Gaza-Israel border.

“We are determined to complete this mission with or without a cease-fire,” Netanyahu said in public remarks opening a cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv. “I won't agree to any proposal that will not enable the Israeli military to complete this important task for the sake of Israel's security.”

Major General Sami Turgeman, chief of Israeli forces in Gaza, said they were “but a few days away from destroying all the attack tunnels.” They have shut down at least 30 to date.

Earlier Thursday, Israel's military called up an additional 16,000 additional reservists, taking their total to 86,000, as military operations in the Gaza Strip continue, an army spokeswoman said, according to the French news agency AFP.

Israel's security cabinet on Wednesday unanimously decided to pursue attacks against Hamas "terrorist targets" and other operations to destroy a network of tunnels used by the Islamist movement between Gaza and Israel, public radio said.

Gaza Conflict, death tolls, July 31, 2014Gaza Conflict, death tolls, July 31, 2014
x
Gaza Conflict, death tolls, July 31, 2014
Gaza Conflict, death tolls, July 31, 2014

While Netanyahu's security cabinet approved continuing the assault, Israel also sent a delegation to Egypt, which has been trying, with Washington's blessing, to broker a cease-fire.

Meanwhile, the death toll has soared.

Gaza officials said at least 1,400 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have now been killed in the battered enclave. Israel has lost 56 soldiers to Gaza clashes and three civilians to Palestinian shelling.

Lull in fighting brings out Gazans

Overnight, several large explosions lit up the sky as Israel continued its airstrikes and heavy shelling. Early Thursday, plumes of smoke could be seen rising above Gaza City. 

Later Thursday morning, a lull in Israel's offensive encouraged Gaza residents to go out and stock up on supplies. VOA Jerusalem bureau chief Scott Bobb reported seeing long lines outside bakeries and in vegetable markets.

Many Palestinians find it difficult to keep perishables because electricity is scarce, especially after an Israeli tank atttack shut down Gaza's main power plant Tuesday, Bobb said. And many are trying to feed relatives displaced by the fighting elsewhere.

The food supply has not been seriously disrupted, with new items coming through the crossing at Khan Younis, a town on the Gaza Strip's southern edge.

But food prices have climbed substantially since fighting began, Bobb said. Mosques are redistributing food donated by residents, filling in where U.N. supplies aren't available.

Attack on school condemned

The surging death toll has provoked international alarm.

Displaced Palestinian children collect water at the Abu Hussein U.N. school in Jebaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza Strip, on July 30, 2014. It had been hit by artillery shells earlier in the day.Displaced Palestinian children collect water at the Abu Hussein U.N. school in Jebaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza Strip, on July 30, 2014. It had been hit by artillery shells earlier in the day.
x
Displaced Palestinian children collect water at the Abu Hussein U.N. school in Jebaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza Strip, on July 30, 2014. It had been hit by artillery shells earlier in the day.
Displaced Palestinian children collect water at the Abu Hussein U.N. school in Jebaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza Strip, on July 30, 2014. It had been hit by artillery shells earlier in the day.

On Thursday, a day after at least 15 Palestinians were killed in the predawn shelling of a U.N.-run school sheltering evacuees in Gaza, the United Nations' top human rights official accused Israel of defying international law by conducting its deadly offensive and of possibly commiting war crimes. 

"We cannot allow impunity, we cannot allow this lack of accountability to go on," said Navi Pillay, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Reuters reported.

She held Hamas culpable, too, saying the militant group's indiscriminate rocket fire into Israel violated international humanitarian law, Reuters said.

Pillay also scolded the United States, Israel's closest ally, for not doing "much more to stop the killing, to bring the parties to the negotiating table."

U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, announces a 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, in New Delhi, India, Aug. 1, 2014.U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, announces a 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, in New Delhi, India, Aug. 1, 2014.
x
U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, announces a 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, in New Delhi, India, Aug. 1, 2014.
U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, announces a 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, in New Delhi, India, Aug. 1, 2014.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, in India Thursday for a meeting with its foreign minister, Sushma Swaraj, said he had continued to work toward a cease-fire.

A cease-fire "at some point is essential," said Kerry, who acknowledged working diplomatic phone lines while enroute. "The United States remains hopeful that it is achievable, and the sooner the better."

The Obama administration had condemned the school shelling Wednesday.

Spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said the U.S. is extremely concerned that thousands of Palestinian driven from their homes cannot find safety in U.N.-designated shelters. She also condemned those who hide weapons in those shelters.

Israel said its forces were attacked by guerrillas near the school, in northern Jabalya, and had fired back.

It did not immediately comment on another incident, in nearby Shejaia, in which Palestinian officials said 17 people were killed by Israeli shelling near a produce market.

“Such a massacre requires an earthquake-like response,” said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum, whose group has kept up dozens of daily rocket launches deep into Israel.

The U.S. on Wednesday announced the sale of weapons to Israel, including 120mm tank rounds and 40 mm illumination rounds.

Iron Dome serves as shield

The Israelis have kept casualties from the salvoes low with nine Iron Dome interceptor batteries and air-raid sirens that send people to shelters.

As the violence continued Thursday, the United Nations reported about 15,000 more Palestinians seeking refuge in its shelters in Gaza. That brought the total number to about 220,000, which is four times what the U.N. said it expected from the crisis.

Approximately 1.8 million Palestinians live in Gaza. The tiny territory's infrastructure is in ruins, with power and water outages.

Cease-fire negotiations

Both Israel and Hamas have voiced openness to a truce, but their terms diverge dramatically. Israel wants Gaza stripped of infiltration tunnels and rocket stocks. Hamas rules that out. It seeks an end to a crippling Gaza blockade enforced by Israel and Egypt, which view the Palestinian Islamists as a security threat.

The negotiations are further complicated by the fact that Israel and the United States shun Hamas as a terrorist group, while the go-betweens - Egypt, Qatar and Turkey - disagree on Gaza policy.

In the absence of a deal, Israel has ordered its ground forces to focus on locating and destroying a warren of tunnels with which Hamas has menaced its southern towns and army bases.

Three Israeli soldiers were killed on Wednesday by a booby trap detonated as they uncovered a tunnel shaft, the army said. Military losses are more than five times those from the last Gaza ground war, in 2008-2009, but Israeli opinion polls show strong public support for fighting on until Hamas is quelled.

Netanyahu faces intense pressure from abroad to stand down, however. The United States and the U.N. Security Council have urged an immediate, unconditional cease-fire by both sides in Gaza to allow in humanitarian relief and for further talks on a more durable cessation of hostilities.

Separately, the Pentagon said it had allowed Israel to stock up on grenades and mortar rounds from a U.S. munitions store located in Israel as part of bilateral emergency preparedness arrangement.

VOA's Scott Bobb contributed to this report from Gaza City. Additional information was provided by Reuters, AFP and AP.

You May Like

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Video US Landmark Pushes Endangered Species

People gathered in streets, on rooftops in Manhattan to see image highlights that covered 33 floors of Empire State Building More

World’s Widest Suspension Bridge Being Built Over Bosphorus

Once built, Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge will span 2 kilometers with about 1.5 kilometers over water, and will be longest suspension bridge in world carrying rail system More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 3
    Next 
by: art
July 31, 2014 11:47 PM
the Gaza Strip is a concentration camp set up by Israel and its army for Palestinian people .today's Gaza is a Palestinian ghetto set up buy israeli army and navy , just as nazi;s set gettos in germany in 1940's and Israeli attacks are a war crime
The systematic slaughter of Palestinian people is the NEW Holocaust and is so sad that world EU, USA, and Russia are not doing anything about it and is even more sad because the Israel ARMY is doing all the same things to Palestinian people what hitler and nazi's did to poor Jewish people in Europe 70 years ago and Israel is doing SAME this to Palestine for the longest time now... everyone is surprised how come Jewish people don;t stand up and defend Palestinian people from all this injustice because Gaza strip has been so enclosed that looks like more like a prison....Israel controls all the sea, land, borders and airspace. Palestinians cant even fish in the Mediterranean sea, because israels nevy does not let them. . Whaen will world act and open Gaza up so Gazan's can live free like all the people in the world .....its so sad to see all the poor kids slathered in the school yards ....my hart is weeping from sadness....International community must act and Internationale courts must act to help all people in the world that are going thru injustice like the people in situations like in Gaza now


by: John Pombrio from: Manchester CT
July 31, 2014 8:14 PM
This truce will last only a few hours. Since the Palestinians are fragmented, some group or another will lob a few mortar shells or fire some rockets. The truce will then be broken and it begins all over again.

by: Raj from: India
July 31, 2014 7:41 PM
We support you Gaza! The people of Europe need to rise up against Israel. You give Israel free trade and military and then they slap you in the face. The UN created Israel the UN can dismantle it.

by: Mark from: SC
July 31, 2014 7:32 PM
We have more in common with the people of Gaza than we do the Israeli regime. Both want freedom.
Israel controls the borders, sea, and airspace. What do expect Gaza to do?

by: Pat from: USA
July 31, 2014 7:24 PM
I recently learned those tunnels Israel wants to destroy were made to bring goods and supplies into Gaza because Israel blocks these goods from entering into Gaza. So the truth is, Israel wants to starve out Gazans and prevent them from having medical supplies etc. So what this is really all about is genocide, not defense of Israel. To be sure many news stories on Israel has the official stating it is an OFFENSIVE not a defensive. It makes me wonder how many Americans read and understand the words.
In Response

by: micheal from: nigeria
August 01, 2014 1:24 AM
will you allow terrorist to roam your street freely? That is what isreal is trying to avoid tell hamas to renounce violent then isreal and the world will listen to thier voice

by: onefeather from: USA
July 31, 2014 7:23 PM
Good for Israel at least they take a stand to protect and fight against the terrorist Hamas. It seems like that CNN news is on the side of Hamas. How sad when you seem to be for the terrorist. I will watch another news station that knows right from wrong. This is war, people get killer including children but Israel does not use it's people as shields and a place to store weapons among them.

by: michael shelton from: seattle
July 31, 2014 7:22 PM
what tools did the Palestinians use to build "those elaborate tunnels"...spoons and spit?
we already know they fight wars with rocks and sticks...

by: honest Platinum from: USA
July 31, 2014 7:22 PM
Israel is more terrorist than Hamas.
Jews the money changer run walls street and gives a lot of money to both parties. There is one thing both parties agree, SUPPORT ISRAEL no matter what. This is a terrible for this country.

by: Jennifer from: southern U.S.A.
July 31, 2014 4:13 PM
This world population...secular and otherwise..are increasingly aware that violence is escalating everywhere. We are being fed different slants from different "news" sources that might not have noble motives...However...anyone who has read the Bible OR the Quran knows terrible times with terrible wars are coming....I am a believer in the teachings if the Holy Bible...i so hate to see war..poverty..displacement..lives ruined..and taken . I don't begin to understand the details of ALL of this..i just will say...AND YET I WILL REJOICE IN THE LORD. My Lord is the God of Israel. I wish noone else to be hurt ir die. But His will WILL come to pass.
"OUR GOD IS IN THE HEAVENS..HE HATH DONE WHATSOEVER HE PLEASES." So i continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem..i also fervently pray that we ALL experience JESUS.He really is out true Peace.

by: Luther from: India
July 31, 2014 11:58 AM
May the God of Abraham, Jacob, and Issac protect Israeli soldiers from dying anymore and from those Hamas terrorists. Israel has very reason to escalate the destruction of Hamas tunnels till they are completely destroyed. Israeli's hitting of UN school was not intentional. At war sometimes it is unavoidable. Full support to Israeli actions!
In Response

by: Peace to all from: India
July 31, 2014 11:51 PM
People of India are with poor people and children of Gaza and Palestine who are getting killed by merciless heart of occupators of israel's nazi like armies.
In Response

by: John from: USA
July 31, 2014 7:45 PM
May God of Abraham, Jacob and Isaas forgive you for your cruel and merciless heart.
Comments page of 3
    Next 

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs