Israel and Hamas have agreed to an unconditional 72-hour ceasefire in Gaza, the US and UN announced Friday with Secretary of state John Kerry saying that the deal is an opportunity to find a long-term truce solution.
“This is not a time for congratulations and joy, or anything except a serious determination, a focus by everybody to try to figure out the road ahead. This is a respite. It’s a moment of opportunity, not an end; it’s not a solution. It’s the opportunity to find the solution,” Kerry, who fell short of winning a truce in Cairo last week, said.
“We have to understand that all the people involved in this have strong demands and strong visions about what the future should look like. Israel has to be able to live in peace and security, without terror attacks, without rockets, without tunnels, without sirens going off in the day.
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“And Palestinians need to be able to live with the opportunity to educate their children and move freely and share in the rest of the world, and to lead a life that is different from the one they have long suffered. So we hope that this moment of opportunity will be grabbed by the
parties, but no one can force them to do that,” he said.
Kerry was addressing reporters in New Delhi where he is meeting Indian leaders to foster bilateral ties.
He said, “US President Barack Obama hopes that all the parties will work diligently to do so.”
The 72-hour ceasefire is a lull of opportunity, a moment for the sides and the different factions to be able to come together with the state of Israel in an effort to try to address ways to find a sustainable ceasefire and over a longer period of time, address the underlying issues, he said.
The US, Kerry said, will also join in the effort to provide humanitarian assistance.
“(US President Barack) Obama has made available some USD47 million to help ensure that some of the relief is able to come in, and many of our international partners have also made commitments over the course of the last weeks,” he said.
“While we are grateful that the violence and the bloodshed has the opportunity to stop for more than 24 hours, it is up to the parties to take advantage of this moment. There are no guarantees. This is a difficult, complicated issue, years and years in the building, and I think everyone knows it has not been easy to get to this point,” he said.
The UN and US shepherded a cease-fire that begins at 8 am local time today in Gaza.
No sooner the announcement on the agreement was made, Egypt extented invitation to the Palestinian Authority and Israel to send delegations to Cairo for truce talks.
Since Israel began its offensive in Gaza on July 8, at least 1,435 Palestinians have been killed, along with 56 Israeli soldiers and three Israeli civilians have died in Hamas attacks.