Israel And Hamas Agree To Gaza Cease-Fire

By: CBA/AP (Posted by Kion Hudson)
By: CBA/AP (Posted by Kion Hudson)
Egypt has announced a cease-fire agreement to end a week of fighting between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.

Graphic showing Gaza.

(CBS/AP)-- Egypt has announced a cease-fire agreement to end a week of fighting between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.

Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr said the truce would take effect at 9 p.m. local time (2 p.m. EDT.) He made the announcement alongside visiting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

In Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed the deal, saying he had agreed after consulting with President Barack Obama.

The White House said that President Obama praised Netanyahu for agreeing to the Egyptian cease-fire plan "while reiterating that Israel maintains the right to defend itself."

It also said the United States will use the opportunity offered by a ceasefire to intensify efforts to help Israel address its security needs, especially the smuggling of weapons and explosives into Gaza. The White House also said that the president thanked Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi for his role in the cease-fire.

Israel launched well over 1,500 airstrikes and other attacks on targets in Gaza, while more than 1,000 rockets pounded Israel since the fighting began on Nov. 14. In all, more than 140 Palestinians, including dozens of civilians, were killed, while five Israelis died in the fighting.

According to a copy of the agreement obtained by The Associated Press, Israel and Hamas agreed to an immediate halt in the violence. Israel will end its policy of assassinating top Hamas officials, while Hamas promised to halt all rocket fire by the many militant groups operating in the Gaza Strip.

After a brief cooling off period, Israel pledged to ease its blockade of Gaza, though there were no firm assurances on how that will be done. Israel has maintained the blockade since Hamas seized power of Gaza in 2007, though it has gradually lifted many of the restrictions.

Moussa Abu Marzouk, a top Hamas official, said on his Facebook page that talks on a new border arrangement would begin after the 24-hour cooling off period.

Israeli TV channels, citing unidentified Israeli officials, said the details on future arrangements would be handled through an international liaison team.

The deal marked a key victory for Egypt's new Islamist government, which is caught in a balancing act between its allegiance to Hamas and its need to maintain good relations with Israel and the U.S. Hamas is an offshoot of Egypt's ruling Muslim Brotherhood.

The announcement comes hours after a bomb exploded aboard an Israeli bus near the nation's military headquarters in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, wounding 27 people.

Israel, Palestinians in deadly clashes.Israeli aircraft pounded Gaza with at least 30 strikes overnight, hitting government ministries, smuggling tunnels, a banker's empty villa and a Hamas-linked media office.

And it took Israel less than two hours to respond to the bus bombing with a fresh round of air strikes on the tiny Palestinian territory. As night fell in the Middle East, CBS News correspondent Charlie D'Agata said at least 30 shells from an Israeli warship pounded the city.

One blast the night before blew out the windows of the hotel room where D'Agata was staying in Gaza.

Militant rocket fire into Israel has killed five Israelis.


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