Hamas and Israel have agreed to an unconditional humanitarian cease-fire that is to last 72 hours, beginning on Friday, according to the United Nations (UN) and Washington.
Reported by AP, the US and UN released a joint statement on Thursday evening in which they detailed the three-day truce, which the brokers hope will allow for negotiations leading to a more permanent cease-fire.
The statement read: "This humanitarian cease-fire will commence at 8 a.m. local time on Friday, Aug. 1, 2014. It will last for a period of 72 hours unless extended. During this time the forces on the ground will remain in place. We urge all parties to act with restraint until this humanitarian cease-fire begins, and to fully abide by their commitments during the cease-fire."
The purpose of the cease-fire is to allow critical repair to damaged infrastructure in Gaza, as well as provide humanitarian relief to the citizens, as well as provide time for Palestinians to bury their dead. Delegations from the warring states are to travel to Cairo on Friday for the start of negotiations to be overseen by the Egyptian government.
The statement in full:
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and United States Secretary of State John Kerry announce that the United Nations Representative in Jerusalem, Special Coordinator Robert Serry, has received assurances that all parties have agreed to an unconditional humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.
This humanitarian ceasefire will commence at 8 am local time on Friday, August 1, 2014. It will last for a period of 72 hours unless extended. During this time the 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.
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. Overdue repairs on essential water and energy infrastructure could also continue during this period.
Israeli and Palestinian delegations will immediately be going to Cairo for negotiations with the Government of Egypt, at the invitation of Egypt, aimed at reaching a durable ceasefire. The parties will be able to raise all issues of concern in these negotiations.
We thank key regional stakeholders for their vital support of this process, and count on a continued collaborative international effort to assist Egypt and the parties reach a durable ceasefire as soon as possible.
Earlier on Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called up 16,000 more reservists, promising to continue the offensive to destroy the cross-border, Hamas-built tunnels regardless of any future cease-fire. "We have neutralised dozens of terror tunnels and we are committed to complete this mission, with or without a cease-fire," he said, adding, "I will not agree to any offer that does not allow the military to complete this important mission for the security of the people of Israel."
According to Palestinian officials, the death toll has now topped 1,360 since fighting began on the 8 July, many of the fatalities civilians. 58 Israelis have also been killed.
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