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After death of 140 Palestinians, heavy losses ceasefire in Gaza

Thursday November 22, 2012 09:14:07 AM, IANS

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Cairo/United Nations: Israel and Gaza militant groups have agreed to a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr announced after the deal was brokered by Cairo.

According to the ceasefire agreement, the two sides will stop airstrikes and rocket attacks starting 9 p.m. Gaza time Wednesday (1900 GMT), Xinhua reported.

Appreciating the efforts made by the UN, the Arab League, Qatar and Turkey, Amr said Egypt was committed to its historical role in the Palestinian issue, and that his country believes in the necessity of a fair solution.

"Egypt calls the whole world to follow what has been achieved under the Egyptian mediation, to guarantee that both sides are committed to the agreement," he was quoted as saying.

Amr announced the ceasefire at a press conference with visiting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after their meeting in Cairo.

Clinton arrived in Cairo Wednesday to hold meetings with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and other officials.

The Israeli Prime Minister's Office confirmed that a ceasefire agreement has been reached with the Palestinian militant groups in Gaza.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had spoken Tuesday with US President Barack Obama and assured him that Israel would "give the Egyptian ceasefire agreement a chance".

By accepting the truce offer, Israel is "giving a chance to stabilize the region before there is a need to execute excessive force", the prime minister's office said.

"Netanyahu has repeatedly said and stressed that Israel will take any step necessary to protect its citizens," it said.

The understandings related to the ceasefire agreement include:

1. Israel stops all aggressive actions on Gaza, from the sea, the ground and the air, including incursions and targeted killing of people.

2. Palestinian factions and armed wings stop all aggressive actions from the Gaza Strip on Israel, including rockets and attacks on the borderline between the Gaza Strip and Israel.

3. Opening crossing points and facilitating the movement of individuals and goods, and not restricting the movement of residents or targeting them near border areas. This should be implemented after 24 hours of the agreement becoming valid.

4. Each side would be committed not to carry unilateral action to violate these understandings. In case there are any observations, Egypt, as the sponsor of this agreement, shall be noted to follow up.

Ceasefire hailed
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and top leaders of the European Union (EU) hailed the ceasefire in Gaza between Israel and the Hamas, and commended Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi for his efforts.

Briefing the UN Security Council via video link from the Tel Aviv airport, Ban said: "I warmly welcome today's ceasefire announcement. I commend the parties for stepping back from the brink and I commend President Morsi of Egypt for his exceptional leadership."

The secretary-general was visiting the Middle East region to push for an early end to the week-long hostilities, Xinhua reported.

The Israel-Hamas conflict reportedly killed more than 140 Palestinians and at least five Israelis, and left about 1,000 others injured on both sides.

"Our focus now must be on ensuring the ceasefire holds and that all those in need in Gaza - and there are many - receive the humanitarian assistance they need," Ban said.

"It's a huge relief for the people of Gaza and Israel, and for the international community, that the violence is stopping."

Leaders of the EU hailed the ceasefire soon after it was proclaimed.

"We welcome wholeheartedly the cease-fire that has just been proclaimed in Gaza and that was being strongly called for by the European Union and the international community," said a statement jointly issued by the European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and the European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

Head of the Hamas-run government in the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haneya, in a statement emailed to the media, said he was proud of the Palestinian people's steadfastness and their armed resistance.

"We congratulate our people for this victory, as the Palestinian people and their resistance proved an ability of steadfastness, creation and courage," said Haneya.

In Beirut, head of Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, said the "victory of Palestinians in Gaza was natural and expected", the official National News Agency reported.

"The ceasefire declaration between Israel and Gaza was an end to the Israeli aggression and a victory for the Palestinian resistance," the NNA quoted Nasrallah as saying in a televised speech.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in a statement published by the official news agency Wafa, Abbas said he supports the agreement "to stop the bloodshed of our people and to put an end to the continuation of the Israeli aggression on Gaza".





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