Ceasefire in Gaza: Both Israel & Hamas Accept Truce for 72 Hours
By Sounak Mukhopadhyay | August 1, 2014 4:34 PM EST
The peace, though for 72 hours for the time being, comes as a great respite for the Palestinian people, who have been counting corpses for the last 24 days.
The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, along with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, declared on Thursday that Hamas and Israel had agreed on a 72-hour ceasefire on humanitarian grounds. The ceasefire starts at 8 o'clock in the morning (local time) on Friday, 01 August.
A Palestinian walks atop the rubble of a house which police said was destroyed in an Israeli air strikes in Gaza City July 8, 2014. Israel launched an aerial offensive in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, bombing more than 30 targets including homes and calling it part of a campaign named "Operation Protective Edge" targeting Hamas Islamist militants firing rockets at the Jewish state. The military urged Israelis within a 40-km (24-mile) radius of the southern coastal territory to stay within reach of protected areas and ordered summer camps shut as a precaution against rocket fire. Palestinian officials said Israel bombed more than 30 targets in little more than an hour before dawn, including two homes in southern Gaza, one of which was identified by a neighbour as belonging to a Hamas member.
The joint statement by the U.N. and the U.S. stated that the ceasefire would last for three days, "unless extended." The statement also said that Israeli forces would be stationed at usual positions in Gaza during the ceasefire.
Even though ceasefire has earlier been declared by either side, it did not become successful as the rival side did not respect the truce. However, this time the ceasefire is accepted by both Hamas and Israel.
CNN received text messages from Israel's Prime Minister's Office as well as from a Hamas spokesman about the confirmation of the ceasefire having been accepted by both.
This comes as a much-awaited break in Gaza where people have witnessed bloodbath in the last 24 days. The ceasefire will also be an opportunity for humanitarian aid to reach Gaza. The aid is going to provide food for the hungry, burial for the dead and treatment for the wounded.
More than 1,400 Palestinians have been killed in Israel's military attack. Most of the casualties are civilians including women and children.
The ceasefire statement said that both Israel and Palestine would meet in Cairo for negotiating a longer ceasefire in the region to ensure prolonged peace.
An extended duration of ceasefire for days, weeks or even months can only be possibly if both the sides come to a compromise. This means that neither side can be rigid about their demands.
While Israel wants to eliminate Hamas or at least disarm it, Hamas wants its set of demands including unrestricted cross-border interaction to be fulfilled. The history between these two is not very encouraging to have hopes for peace for a longer time. However, one should hope that the carnage in Gaza inspires them to be more sensible about the situation.
Contact the writer: s.mukhopadhyay@IBTimes.com.au
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