Israel and Hamas have agreed to unconditionally begin a 72-hour ceasefire in the embattled Gaza Strip on Friday, the United States and United Nations said Thursday.
The ceasefire will begin at 8 a.m. local time (0500 GMT) on Friday, Aug. 1, US Secretary of State John Kerry and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said in a joint statement. During the three-day cessation, forces on the ground will remain in place.
“We urge all parties to act with restraint until this humanitarian ceasefire begins, and to fully abide by their commitments during the ceasefire,” Kerry and Ban said in the statement.
“This ceasefire is critical to giving innocent civilians a much-needed reprieve from violence. During this period, civilians in Gaza will receive urgently needed humanitarian relief, and the opportunity to carry out vital functions, including burying the dead, taking care of the injured, and restocking food supplies,” they continued. “Overdue repairs on essential water and energy infrastructure could also continue during this period.”
Israeli and Palestinian delegations will begin negotiations in Cairo for a more permanent ceasefire mediated by the Egyptian government. “The parties will be able to raise all issues of concern in these negotiations,” the two international leaders said.
A representative of Hamas independently confirmed the ceasefire agreement.
“Acknowledging a call by the United Nations and in consideration of the situation of our people, resistance factions agreed to a 72-hour humanitarian and mutual calm that begins… on Friday as long as the other side abides by it,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters.
“All the Palestinian factions are united behind the issue in this regard,” Abu Zuhri said.
Earlier on Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the IDF will complete the destruction of Hamas, no matter what.
“We are determined to complete this mission with or without a ceasefire,” Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv. “I won’t agree to any proposal that will not enable the Israeli military to complete this important task for the sake of Israel’s security.”
“Hamas has taken harsh blows from the IDF and ISA,” he said. “We have struck hard at thousands of terrorist targets: command centers, rocket arsenals, production facilities, launch areas and hundreds of terrorists have been killed.”
After 24 days of IDF’s mission, at least 1382 Palestinians have been killed, most of whom are women and children, while more than 7800 others have been injured, Palestinian News Agency WAFA reports. At least 19 Palestinians, including children, a disabled female and two journalist were killed in a series of Israeli air and artillery attacks across the Gaza Strip on Thursday alone.
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