News / Middle East

Israel, Palestinians Reach Gaza Cease-fire Deal

  • Palestinian women stand next to the remains of one of Gaza's tallest apartment towers, which was destroyed by an air strike, in Gaza City, Aug. 26, 2014.
  • Palestinians gather around the remains of an apartment building which was destroyed by an air strike in Gaza City, Aug. 26, 2014.
  • A Palestinian boy sits atop a car loaded with his family's belongings near their house, which was hit by an air strike, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, Aug. 26, 2014.
  • Israeli emergency personnel surround a house that was struck by a rocket, fired from Gaza, in the southern coastal city of Ashkelon, Aug. 26, 2014.
  • Israeli onlookers stand at the scene after a rocket landed in the southern coastal city of Ashkelon, Aug. 26, 2014.
  • An Israeli surveys the damage to his apartment after a rocket struck a nearby house in the southern coastal city of Ashkelon, Aug. 26, 2014.
  • Palestinians carry the body of a Hamas militant, who was killed by an Israeli air strike, during his funeral in Gaza City, Aug. 26, 2014.
  • Smoke rises following air strikes in Gaza Aug. 26, 2014.
Crisis in Gaza – Tuesday, Aug. 26
VOA News

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators announced Tuesday they have agreed to an open-ended cease-fire to halt seven weeks of deadly combat in Gaza.

The truce took effect at 7 p.m. local time (1600 GMT), though fighting continued up to that point, the Associated Press reported. Just before its start, mortar fired into southern Israel killed at least one Israeli. But celebratory gunfire broke out in Gaza, with mosques' loudspeakers carrying chants typically reserved for holidays.

Palestinians celebrate following announcement of a cease-fire in Gaza City Aug. 26, 2014.Palestinians celebrate following announcement of a cease-fire in Gaza City Aug. 26, 2014.
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Palestinians celebrate following announcement of a cease-fire in Gaza City Aug. 26, 2014.
Palestinians celebrate following announcement of a cease-fire in Gaza City Aug. 26, 2014.

The cease-fire was announced by Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority, from his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah. 

Egypt brokered the deal, which calls for Israel to ease its blockade of Gaza, allowing shipments of humanitarian aid and building materials for repair and reconstruction.

A statement from Egypt's foreign ministry said indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinians should resume within a month of the cease-fire's implementation, Reuters reported. The continuing talks will address Israel's demand for disarming the militant group Hamas, which governs Gaza. Palestinians also want the opening of a seaport and airport and greater easing of the blockade. 

Egypt has been appealing to Israel and Hamas to enact a cease-fire and resume negotiating an end to the fighting that erupted July 8.

Israeli cabinet members were apprised by phone of the cease-fire decision but were not asked to vote on it, Israeli senior officials told the Jerusalem Post.

Gaza Conflict: Palestinian and Israeli death toll since the start of Israel’s military offensive in Gaza.Gaza Conflict: Palestinian and Israeli death toll since the start of Israel’s military offensive in Gaza.
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Gaza Conflict: Palestinian and Israeli death toll since the start of Israel’s military offensive in Gaza.
Gaza Conflict: Palestinian and Israeli death toll since the start of Israel’s military offensive in Gaza.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri insisted the agreement was a "victory" for his group.

Asserting Palestinians "won" the battle, Abu Zuhri said Israeli military forces were unable to defend their people, who had to hide or flee under attack. The spokesman also said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was a failure because the operation in Gaza "achieved nothing."

Nearly two months of Israeli airstrikes in response to Hamas rocket fire have killed at least 2,133 Palestinians, most of them civilians, including close to 500 children, Palestinian health officials and the United Nations report. Sixty-four Israeli soldiers and four civilians have been killed.

The United States, which has long called for an end to the fighting, said it strongly supports the truce.

"As soon as calm is restored, the delivery of urgently needed humanitarian assistance to the people in Gaza must be accelerated," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement. He said the U.S. was committed to that effort and to working with international partners on rebuilding Gaza.

The United Nations has estimated that the Gaza violence has forced 475,000 Palestinians to seek refuge at its shelters.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the cease-fire, saying in a statement that "it is up to the parties to live up to this responsibility. After this latest round of killing and the further widespread destruction of Palestinian homes, civilians on both sides need a reprieve. ..."

There have been several cease-fires, and on-off peace talks in Cairo. But violence resumed quickly when contentious negotiations broke down over Israel's demand that Hamas be disarmed and the Palestinians' call for an end to the Israeli blockade of Gaza. 

High-rises bombed

The development followed a wave of Israeli airstrikes Tuesday that included the bombing of two Gaza City high-rise buildings. At least two people were killed, Palestinian health officials say.

One airstrike early Tuesday collapsed a 15-story office and apartment tower. Another severely damaged a second tower containing shops and offices, wounding at least 25 people, Palestinian health officials told the Associated Press. 

Israel had warned people to leave the area, a tactic the military has used repeatedly before attacking sites where it says militants have been operating.

Since Saturday, the Israeli military had toppled several office buildings and shopping malls in what might have been a shift to pressure middle-class Palestinians to question Hamas tactics and end the group's barrage of cross-border rocket fire, the AP reported.

"Some people will now be wondering why Hamas did not accept a cease-fire proposal during the first week of the fighting, when the damage here was still relatively small," Mkhaimar Abu Sada, a political scientist at Gaza's Al Azhar University, told the news service.

But an Israeli military spokesman, in an email to the AP, said the strikes were "a direct result to Hamas' decision to situate their terrorist infrastructure within the civilian sphere including schools, hospitals and high-rise buildings."

Abu Karim, an eyewitness to one of the attacks Tuesday, said, "There are no rockets in the tower and there is no [Hamas] resistance in the tower. The attack on the towers is only to scare the people and make them oppose the resistance. Neither Israel nor America will be able to bring us down to our knees."

Earlier Tuesday, an Israeli military spokesman reported more rockets being fired at Israel, including one intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome defense system over Tel Aviv.

VOA's Edward Yeranian contributed to this report from Cairo. Some information also was provided by the Associated Press, Reuters and AFP.

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Comments
     
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
August 27, 2014 7:50 AM
For Israel to accept a cease fire with Hamas once again is a sign of how weakened and vulnerable Israel has become under very little Palestinian pressure. I feel a lot worried that Israel could chicken out so easily and bow to Hamas when it knows that ISIS is eating up the ground like gully erosion starting from Iraq, in Syria and is very close to its borders. Part of this is blamable on pressure from the Obama administration which has put Israel under intense pressure to do the wrong things with the Palestinian struggle.

Allowing Hamas under whatever disguise is signing a death warrant. Egypt may be a friend, but I do not trust any islamist country, any country ruled by muslim leader, cannot mean anything different from jihad. Long ago Nigeria took the path that Israel is toeing today, softening ground for our muslim friends until one of our leaders sold the country to OIC. Today the repercussion is staring us in the face and analysts think Nigeria has entered a jet plane that has no instrument landing facility. I do not wish Israel makes that mistake by allowing its own arch enemy perch on it while ISIS is powered by Turkey and Qatar to take over the whole Mideast starting from presumed weak Islamic states until they get to others.

The idea is when Islamism is strengthened out there, the collective resolve to wipe Israel out will be given rein and teeth, giving Israel no chance to survive. That’s why Qatari officials, despite their extreme temperatures, exhibit their internal heat by the extreme apparels they always wear. Extremism starts from little signs and grows into fanaticism exhibited in such extreme views in terrorism as we’re witnessing in boko haram, Hamas, Hezbollah, al qaida, al shebaab, al nusra, ISIS, etc. Believe it or not, Israel has made a fundamental mistake by once again agreeing a ceasefire with Hamas. I just wish there will be posterity to judge this matter.

In Response

by: Don Barrett from: California
August 29, 2014 4:58 AM
I have no idea what drugs there are in Algeria, but if a war erupted with Syria, there would be a huge demand. Israel is a world class atomic power. Want to scare a Syrian? Just say: Dimona.


by: Anthonybellchambers from: London UK
August 27, 2014 2:19 AM
Warning! Mr Netanyahu's government propaganda machine is now working overtime thru its Foreign Affairs Ministry in London, New York, Paris and Washington to try to persuade you that Hamas is identical to ISIS, the Islamist State in Syria and other terrorist organisations.

That is, of course, political propaganda. The reality is that Hamas is the democratically elected government in Gaza that provides the social services and security to its 1.8 million inhabitants against the backdrop of an illegal Israeli blockade of essential services now in its seventh year!

Security is obviously now impossible as a consequence of the unprecedented state-directed terrorism of the Israeli government as it continues to bomb and slaughter civilians with its US-supplied warplanes, helicopter gunships, missile launchers and cluster bombs against a virtually unarmed population.

It is a blood-soaked catastrophe openly taking place in front of a world, apparently silenced by its links to the Israel-lobby-controlled, US-congress. It is, in fact, a terrorist campaign not unlike that of ISIS in Syria. That is the true comparison as evidenced by the media and television.

It is unfortunate that many of us are sadly just too lazy to enquire as to what is factual and that which is fabricated half-truth disseminated by the paid trolls of a foreign government.

Facts are sacred, whilst propaganda is for those prepared to be associated with the destruction of a city and the summary execution of its residents - families just like yours or mine in London, Manchester, Manhattan, New York, Paris or Lille. But these families are in Gaza, in the bombed-out remnants of a destroyed civilian conurbation in which hospitals and schools have also been bombed and terrorised.



by: Eric
August 26, 2014 11:49 PM
Whilst there may have been no rockets in the tower buildings, Hamas were likely using them as observation points for Israeli ground troop movements. These buildings would afford excellent all round observation and whilst they afford accommodation for many civillians, they are a "two edged sword" in conflict.


by: Sunny Enwerem from: Lagos Nigeria
August 26, 2014 3:48 PM
A sign that PM Natenyahu is tired ,a new and yet decisive PM is needed ,this is sure not an assurance Hamas remaining rockets will not be fired ,he should have demanded Hamas publicly gives up it arms as a sign of true gesture of peace ,PM Netanyahu should step aside.


by: chris87654 from: usa
August 26, 2014 10:56 AM
Egypt has proposed opening key crossing into Gaza in order to allow shipments of humanitarian aid and materials to repair "damaged buildings".

...like all those tunnels Israel destroyed. Unless Hamas agrees to "an indefinite end to hostilities" and their 'military wing' agrees, these defensive/offensive wars by Israel will reoccur. Even with the blockade, Hamas showed it can get long-range rockets and build a MAJOR military tunnel network.


by: Mark from: San Rafael
August 26, 2014 10:03 AM
Actually I think you have it wrong . If you noticed none of the Arab countries are supporting Hamas. It is the Arab countries that are shaking the Hamas stone from their shoe. When Hamas is gone then I think the Palestinians will finally have a chance for peace! They murder their own people! No one can tolerate extremism.


by: Kafantaris from: Warren, Ohio
August 26, 2014 5:55 AM
Since the bombing of Gaza is just fine by those who count here in the United States, Israel sees no reason to stop. But as Assad galvanized the extreme elements in the Middle East, so might Israel -- besides it too knocking the United Nations further into irrelevancy.
The fact that the rest of the world sees Israel much differently than we do should give us pause -- and maybe enough to ask why we've been
caring this Israel stone in our shoe so long. It might be high time we stopped, take off that shoe and shake this stone out.

In Response

by: Don Barrett from: Malibu, CA
August 29, 2014 9:38 AM
Stone in the shoe for so long? Do you have any idea what Israel does for us. The Mossad is an exquisitely tuned intelligence organization and passes their info to US. In addition, Israel has Dimona - it's classified nuclear installation, capable of removing nations from the map. Now do you really want to fight over land which under international law is disputed and doesn't belong to anybody (Gaza). The fact is, the Arabs could not win a large scale middle east war. One "Castle Bravo" and you lose.

In Response

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
August 26, 2014 1:26 PM
My concern is how history is going to be wiped out as soon as a Hamas government is allowed to settle down in Gaza. See what ISIS has done to such artifacts in Iraq, what al qaida in the Maghreb has done in Timbuktu in Mali. Even the so-called muslim pilgrimage sites in Jerusalem and parts of West Bank will be wiped out as soon as Hamas becomes a Palestinian independent autonomy. Christians will stop going to Israel, the birthplace of Jesus Christ. This is doom!

In Response

by: Don Barrett from: Kansas City, MO
August 26, 2014 11:24 AM
The bombing of Gaza was necessary since the Gazan's stated lobbing `940's missiles into Israel. This business about more dead Gazan's thanJews - does anybody remember the firebombing of Dresden or Hiroshima. 126,000 dead Japanese, 0 Americans. Did anyone complain. If you don't like to win wars, move to Holland, put on a burka, and travel to the 7th century.

In Response

by: chris87654 from: usa
August 26, 2014 11:00 AM
All that has to happen now to reopen crossings etc is for Hamas to end hostilities, which will be difficult since their main purpose is to destroy Israel. If all was restored, you and your people will take it back to when Israel won the land in a war. Things would be much different had the Palestinians used Gaza (after Israel left in 2005) for a good purpose, but instead they tore down the greenhouses (which could have been used for food production) and elected terrorists to the legislature who then routed Fatah completely out of Gaza... a complete waste of time, energy, and money.

In Response

by: jab from: us
August 26, 2014 10:50 AM
Kafantaris from: Warren, Ohio- Hamas already admitted starting this present war by murdering 3 kids. They also had been sending bombs on an almost daily basis into Israel prior to Israel bombing Gaza. Your paragraph makes no sense. Imagine ISIS bombing Warren Ohio or Canton, Ohio, killing kids and you think the US should do nothing to ISIS or their strongholds. Would you be mad if Israel sent us aid to stop them?

In Response

by: meetoo from: oshawa ontario
August 26, 2014 10:20 AM
The U.N. lost its credability a long time ago. I truly wonder if it had any at all or if they have always been a romantic notion that has been nothing but hot air. So many people comment on this war like they understand.You lie safe in your bed at night and play judge on things you have never experienced never had to face.

If the people in north america had to go through one tenth of what Israel has gone through the neighbouring countries and rebel milatants would not look the same. And let us not forget these enemies are cowards who hide behind skirts use children as shields and place no value on human life. I pray Israel wipes them all out and take over Gaza.Then Israel can live in peace.......at least in the south.

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