• Saturday, October 25, 2014

Long-term Gaza ceasefire agreed

BBC Online
The remains of one of Gaza's tallest apartment towers, which witnesses said was hit by an Israeli air strike that destroyed much of it, are seen in Gaza City August 26, 2014. Photo: Reuters
The remains of one of Gaza's tallest apartment towers, which witnesses said was hit by an Israeli air strike that destroyed much of it, are seen in Gaza City August 26, 2014. Photo: Reuters

Egypt has brokered an agreement on a long-term ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, senior Palestinian officials have said.

Hamas negotiator Moussa Abu Marzouk said the deal to end seven weeks of fighting that has left more than 2,200 people dead would be announced shortly.

The Palestinians said Israel had agreed to ease its blockade of Gaza to allow in aid supplies and building materials.

There was no immediate comment from the Israeli government.

The apparent breakthrough came as both sides continued to trade fire.

'VICTORY'

Palestinian officials said Egypt's ceasefire proposal called for an indefinite end to hostilities, the immediate opening of Gaza's crossings with Israel and Egypt, and an extension of the territory's Mediterranean fishing limit.

A month later, the officials added, Israel and the Palestinian factions would discuss the construction of a seaport in Gaza and the freeing of about 100 prisoners released in exchange for Gilad Shalit in 2011 who were recently rearrested in the occupied West Bank.

A Palestinian girl holding her sister walks through debris near remains of a mosque, which witnesses said was hit by an Israeli air strike, in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip August 25. Photo: Reuters
A Palestinian girl holding her sister walks through debris near remains of a mosque, which witnesses said was hit by an Israeli air strike, in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip August 25. Photo: Reuters

Israel and Egypt were said to be demanding guarantees that weapons would not be smuggled into Gaza.

The Israeli delegation had reportedly been seeking guarantees that Hamas and other factions in Gaza would be disarmed.

Egypt says the latest truce will start at 19:00 local time (16:00 GMT).

At the same time, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to provide details at a news conference.

Abu Marzouk wrote on his Facebook page that the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire agreement "embodies the resistance of our people and a victory for the resistance".

One unnamed senior Palestinian official said the head of the Palestinian negotiating team, Azzam al-Ahmed, had played a key role, shuttling between Ramallah, Gaza and Doha, the capital of Qatar.

Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on 8 July with the stated aim of ending rocket fire. It was later expanded to include the destruction of tunnels used by militants for cross-border attacks.

At least 2,138 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in Gaza, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

The Israeli authorities say 64 Israeli soldiers have been killed, along with three Israeli civilians and a Thai national.

'TERRORIST INFRASTRUCTURE'

Early on Tuesday, Israeli jets bombed two high-rise buildings in Gaza City. The Basha Tower, containing flats and offices, was flattened and the Italian Complex, with homes, shops and offices, was severely damaged.

No-one was reported killed as residents managed to flee both buildings after the Israeli military warned them to leave.

However, 20 people were injured in the attack on the Italian Complex, and at least six others were killed in Israeli strikes elsewhere, medics said.

Hamas, the militant Islamist movement that dominates Gaza, accused Israel of an "unprecedented act of revenge" against civilians.

But Israeli military spokesman Lt Col Peter Lerner told the Associated Press that the strikes were "a direct result of Hamas' decision to situate their terrorist infrastructure within the civilian sphere, including schools, hospitals and high-rise buildings".

In Israel, 20 people were lightly injured when a rocket fired by militants in Gaza hit a residential area of the southern town of Ashkelon, police said.

Published: 8:48 pm Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Last modified: 10:17 pm Tuesday, August 26, 2014

TAGS: Egypt Israel agreement Palestinians Gaza long-term ceasefire

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