Long-term Cease-fire Goes Into Effect

Terms of the truce intended to end seven weeks of on-off hostilities between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza have not been released.

Mosque in Gaza City Aug. 25
A Palestinian walks amid the rubble of a mosque in Gaza City, following an Israeli airstrike on Monday. AP

A cease-fire between Israel and the Palestinian militant groups in Gaza went into effect at 7 P.M. local time (noon U.S. Eastern Time) on Tuesday night. The terms of the cease-fire were not immediately available.

The cease-fire was preceded by an intensive rocket and mortar barrage from Gaza, in which one Israeli was killed and six others wounded, one critically. The Israeli death toll since the hostilities began now stands at 69.

The Israeli army continued its attack on Gaza Tuesday, striking over 40 targets since midnight and killing more than six Palestinian across the Strip. 

The long-term cease-fire was announced by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in a short televized address on Tuesday evening and confirmed by Hamas and Egyptian representatives.

In his statement, Abbas said the United Nations would start transferring aid to the Strip immediately, and that he expected nations worldwide to pitch in as well. Abbas also said the Palestinian leadership had decided to change its policy regarding the diplomatic process with Israel and that he intended to present a detailed plan aiming to end the occupation and establish a Palestinian state on the basis of the 1967 lines.

"We'll not enter vague negotiations again," Abbas said.

The truce was criticized by several Israeli officials, including ministers Avigdor Lieberman, Yitzhak Aharonovich  and Naftali Bennett and heads of the communities bordering the Gaza Strip.

Eshkol regional council head Haim Yellin said that he would not instruct residents of the border communities to return to their homes until calm was definitely restored.

"In this situation we don't start the school year, there are unending barrages. It's not a lone mortar shell or rocket, but barrages of 15 rockets at once, sometimes without a rocket siren, so that anyone outside can't take shelter. It's no way to live," he said.

In the past few days, some 700 Israeli families in the border areas have asked the government for help in relocating.

In Gaza, Hamas spokespersons claimed victory at a press conference. "The Palestinian victory is the result of the firm stance of the people and the courage of the resistance," Sami Abu Zuhri said. 

A senior Israeli security official said Israel had insisted on Egyptian mediation for the negotiations. "Over the last several days Hamas has been under heavy internal pressure to reach cease-fire, due to the price the Gaza Strip and the organization itself paid," he said.

He added that he was not impressed by the victory celebrations in the Strip, saying that "Israel has dealt Hamas a critical blow."

"We are very close to achieving diplomatic understandings that will stand in accordance with our people's steadfast position and befit the conduct of the resistance," said Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas's deputy political leader in Gaza.

On the Hamas website a senior member of the group is quoted as saying that the cease-fire agreement will include an Egyptian call for the hostilities to stop in return for opening the crossing in and out of Gaza; humanitarian aid, and the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip.