News / Middle East

Israel, Hamas Agree to 72-Hour Truce

Gazans Visit Destroyed Neighborhoods After Israeli Withdrawali
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Scott Bobb
August 04, 2014 10:30 PM
For some residents of Khan Younis, 7-hour humanitarian cease-fire allows first return home — or what used to be home — since the Israeli ground operations began more than two weeks ago. VOA’s Scott Bobb has more.
VIDEO: For some residents of Khan Younis, humanitarian cease-fire allows first return home — or to what used to be home — since the Israeli ground operations began more than two weeks ago. VOA’s Scott Bobb has more.
VOA News

Israel and Hamas have agreed to a 72-hour cease-fire in the Gaza Strip beginning early Tuesday.

The announcement came late Monday in Cairo, where Egyptian mediators held talks with a Palestinian delegation on terms of a durable truce in war-torn Gaza. 

A senior Israeli official was quoted as saying an Israeli delegation was headed to Cairo for talks during the three-day cease-fire aimed at reaching agreement on a long-term truce.  

Earlier Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the country's military forces were nearing the end of their push to destroy tunnels Hamas has used to store weapons and infiltrate the Jewish state.

But he said Israel's 28-day campaign to demilitarize Gaza and end Hamas rocket launches into Israel will end only when there is "a prolonged period of quiet and security" for Israeli citizens.

Emergency workers in Gaza City said Monday that Israeli warplanes bombed the Shati refugee camp, killing an 8-year-old girl and wounding 30 others just minutes before an earlier seven-hour truce expired.

The Israeli military said it is looking into the report, while accusing militants of firing four rockets from Gaza into Israel.

In Jerusalem Monday, a Palestinian man rammed a massive construction excavator into a bus, killing a nearby pedestrian.  Police described the incident as a "terrorist attack." A short time later, Israeli media reported that a gunman on a motorcycle shot and seriously wounded an Israeli soldier before fleeing.

France joined the United Nations and the United States in condemning Sunday's Israeli airstrike in the southern Gaza town of Rafah that killed at least 10 civilians who had sought shelter in a United Nations school. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius asked how many more deaths it would take "to stop what must be called the carnage in Gaza."

The Israeli military said it had targeted three suspected militants near the school, and said it was "reviewing the consequences" of the strike.

Gaza Strip shelters, and fatality updates, latest available figures from OCHAGaza Strip shelters, and fatality updates, latest available figures from OCHA
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Gaza Strip shelters, and fatality updates, latest available figures from OCHA
Gaza Strip shelters, and fatality updates, latest available figures from OCHA

US, UN, France condemn Sunday airstrike

France joined the United Nations and the United States in condemning Sunday's Israeli airstrike in the southern Gaza town of Rafah that killed at least 10 civilians who had sought shelter in a United Nations school. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius asked how many more deaths it would take "to stop what must be called the carnage in Gaza."

The Israeli military said it had targeted three suspected militants near the school, and said it was "reviewing the consequences" of the strike.

Witnesses said Sunday's strike occurred as residents seeking shelter at the school were waiting in line for food.  In the chaotic aftermath, several bodies, including those of children, were strewn across the ground in pools of blood.

Palestinians say Israeli attacks on Gaza have killed more than 1,800 Palestinians, most of them civilians, while more than 8,000 have been wounded.  Israel says 64 of its soldiers and three civilians have been killed.

Supplies enter Gaza

Meanwhile, trucks carrying supplies were allowed into the Gaza Strip on Monday during the seven-hour partial cease-fire.

The Israeli-declared temporary truce was meant to open a "humanitarian window" for aid as Israeli forces draw down ground operations in the coastal territory.
 
At the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and Gaza, a long line of trucks queued to take advantage of the relative calm and enter Gaza with much needed supplies.
 
"We are handling today 250-270 trucks. As you see most of the trucks are full trailers. They all bring flour, rice and food stuff that were ordered by the Palestinians according to their needs," said Yoel Benon, deputy director of security at the crossing.
 
Several cease-fires have broken down during the three-and-a-half-week war - including on Friday when an internationally negotiated truce collapsed amid violence and mutual recrimination between Israel and Hamas.
 
The partial Israeli cease-fire went into effect at 0700GMT, and while Israel continued hitting at selected Palestinian targets, the level of the fighting was much lower than in previous days.

Israeli reactions to fighting

As Israel moves to wind down its Gaza offensive in the absence of a mediated disengagement deal with Hamas, Israelis in Tel Aviv Monday voiced mixed opinions over the conflict.

Israeli officials say the army is close to completing the main objective of the ground assault on Gaza - destruction of cross-border infiltration tunnels from the Palestinian territory - but remains prepared to respond to Palestinian attacks.

In Tel Aviv, a target of rocket attack launched by militants out of Gaza, residents had differing views of the conflict.

“This operation is really taxing my soul. It's making me lose my humanity," said Michelle Cosanza-Weiss. "I consider myself a liberal, but it's hard to stay very liberal when people are raining rockets on you every day, when you try to organize or have a cease-fire with them and we stop, but they keep going, it's really hard to have sympathy and empathy towards this terrorist group.

"But, on the other side, I know that people are suffering, and I feel that Hamas is the one who is occupying Gaza. Hamas is the one who has taken these people under control, and I feel really bad that these people are born into such a society,” Cosanza-Weiss said.

Rotem Kuza sounded resigned to violence in the future.

“To my opinion, this situation will remain as it is now. I mean, it will pass a year or two and we will see another round of violence with our neighbors. And we just need to take it as it is. I mean, to take it as a fact where we live, and it will be like this forever," Kuza said.

Britain looks at arms contracts

Britain is reviewing all arms export licenses to Israel in response to the Jewish state's escalating conflict with Hamas in Gaza, a government spokeswoman said on Monday.

“We are currently reviewing all export licenses to Israel to confirm that we think they are appropriate,” a spokeswoman for Prime Minister David Cameron told reporters. The decision to conduct the review was taken last week, she said.

According to a report by a British parliamentary committee last month, outstanding government-approved contracts for export of dual use or military goods to Israel are worth more than 7.8 billion pounds ($13.12 billion). These include contracts to supply body armor, drone components, and missile parts.

Also, the British Foreign Office said it was “urgently investigating” claims that a British aid worker had been killed in the Gaza town of Rafah. It declined to comment further.

Partial cease-fire

Shortly after the cease-fire started at 10 a.m. (0700 GMT0, Palestinians said Israel bombed the Shati refugee camp in  Gaza City, killing an 8-year-old girl and wounding 30 other people, while Israel said at least four rockets had been fired at its territory from Gaza.

The Israeli military said it targeted an “operative threat” and rocket fire in the strike “around 10 a.m.”
 
Just hours before the truce was scheduled to start, however, an Israeli airstrike killed a militant Palestinian leader. The Islamic Jihad group said its commander in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, Danyal Mansour, died when the strike hit his home.
 
Since beginning its military operation July 8 against heavy rocket fire from Gaza, Israel has carried out more than 4,600 airstrikes across the crowded seaside area.  

Hamas has fired more than 3,200 rockets into Israel during the war, with some intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome defense system and many of the crude missiles landing in open areas away from cities.

Gaza officials say 1,804 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed and more than a quarter of the impoverished enclave's 1.8 million residents displaced. As many as 3,000 Palestinian homes have been destroyed or damaged.

Israel has lost 64 soldiers in combat and three civilians to Palestinian cross-border rocket and mortar fire.

Egypt as mediator

Egyptian mediation for a cease-fire, supported by the United States and the United Nations and also involving Qatar, Turkey and Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, has been complicated by the dramatically divergent terms set by Israel and Hamas.

Israel has said Gaza must be stripped of tunnels and rocket stocks. Hamas rules this out, and demands an easing of the crippling Gaza blockade enforced by both Israel and Egypt, which consider the Palestinian Islamists a security threat.

On Monday, Palestinian groups including envoys of Hamas and Islamic Jihad held their first formal meeting in Cairo with Egyptian mediators hoping to secure a durable cease-fire with Israel after more than three weeks of fighting.

It was not clear how far the talks would progress, however, after Israel declined to send its envoys.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters, AFP and AP.

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by: Stuart Herd from: Nairobi
August 05, 2014 2:53 AM
It is high time more countries stop weapons exports to Israel which is committing daily war crimes by killing so many innocent civilians in Gaza . The USA has a moral obligation to pressure Israel to stop this slaughter . It is time people in the so called civilised west stand up say enough of Israels slaughter and boycott all Isreali products services as a means to getting to them. Hamas should stop the rockets as well but what options do they have with a full blockade of the Gaza Strip to make the world see the awful plight of the Gazans??

by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
August 05, 2014 12:14 AM
The UN Justice system is not fair to Israel. The UN should be blaming their corrupt organization for all the death toll in their facility. (1) They were the one that was storing Hamas weapons in their facility.(2) they were allowing Hamas to fire from their facility. The UN are the problem to world peace. They are nor fair. We are sorry for the death of the innocent civilians, But at the same token, the UN was the one that was storing Hamas rockets to destroy Israel. Why this is hard to understand? Even my twelve years old daughter asked me, Daddy why would the UN do that? I make my kids to watch the news all the time. so even the babies know the truth.
The UN organization is worthless. The Arab came and stole the Jewish people land, even some Arabs speaking the true about this land issue. Watch and see Hamas is going to break the ceasefire, and when Israel retaliate, the so call UN body will blame Israel. The of the matter, no country will tolerate that mess, every nation will fight back. We do understand your frustration, tell your Hamas to stop firing at Israel position.if they do, Israel has no reason to return fire. The Palestinians are the ones that are committing war crime, they put their civilians in harm way. they should be brought to justice. not Israel. Those people dug all those tunnels under for what peace? No, for one purpose that is to destroy Israel. God Bless Israel

by: Shira Levin from: Minneapolis, Minnesota
August 04, 2014 9:31 PM
We will see how long this ceasefire lasts. Hamas in not to be trusted. So far Hamas has broken every ceasefire with one lasting a mere 2 hours before it was broken by Hamas. This cease fire will be what the seventh or eighth one? How soon will Hamas breaks this one?

by: Sandi from: Midwest US
August 04, 2014 7:20 PM
The Israelis have persecuted the Palestinians to the point they have no the rest of the world will not go along with their ethic cleansing anymore.

by: S Dremel from: USA Midwest
August 04, 2014 7:17 PM
I have sympathy for what happened to the Jews in the past, but it doesn't give them the right to exterminate the Palestinians and commit outrageous war crimes.

by: AZKenReid from: Arizona, USA
August 04, 2014 7:11 PM
Hamas cannot agree to a cease fire because there is effectively no governing body in Gaza. The people firing rockets into Israel are independent actors and are not controlled by Hamas or Fatah. That is the reason that Hamas can never abide a cease fire. Of course that doesn't and shouldn't make a difference to Israel.

by: voaesr from: Los Angeles
August 04, 2014 7:10 PM
I've never had as much difficulty getting of hate toward a person or group of people as I do for these killer Jews.

by: Romania from: Midwest US
August 04, 2014 6:57 PM
It is amazing to me that the world doesn't recognize the ethnic cleansing and concentration camps the Israelis have perpetuated upon the Palestinians. Is the US so beholden to the Jews that they will let them get up with war crimes and genocide?

by: Ali baba from: New york
August 04, 2014 5:45 PM
We are dealing with both sides are paying game in the expense of civilian killing. Both of side have no respect for human being and international law. the fighting started more than two weeks and over thousand had killed. and any time for ceasefire .they claim that other side violet the condition and continue the fighting . Israel want teach Hamas lesson that Hamas should not mess with is real again . What Hamas want? It is tragedy unfolded

by: hom from: far
August 04, 2014 3:29 PM
Israel is an apartheid state where they have 3 sets of laws: the first for superior race of Zionists; they have all rights and privileges while a second set for non Jewish citizens have less right and no law for Palestinians under occupation in which settlers can kill and steal property without account other than slap on the wrest (settlement are against international laws), A solder can put a Palestinian in jail for years because he does not like his face, they raid homes terrorize, kill and destroy when ever they feel like it. (Jewish is not same as Racist Hateful Zionists)
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