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UN, US announce 72-hour ceasefire in Gaza

PTI 01 Aug 2014, 7:00:38 AM IST
United Nations: The United Nations and United States announced that Israel and Hamas had agreed to a “unconditional humanitarian ceasefire” in Gaza for a period of 72 hours starting today, allowing both sides to negotiate on a “durable” armistice.

A joint statement issued by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry said that the UN representative in Jerusalem, Special Coordinator Robert Serry, has “received assurances” that all parties have agreed to an unconditional humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.

The ceasefire will commence at 8 am (local time) today and will last for 72 hours unless extended. During this time the forces on the ground will remain in place.

Israeli and Palestinian delegations will immediately go to Cairo for negotiations with the Egyptian government, at the invitation of Egypt, aimed at reaching a durable truce. The two sides will be able to raise all issues of concern in these talks.

“We urge all parties to act with restraint until this humanitarian ceasefire begins, and to fully abide by their commitments during the ceasefire,” the statement said.  The ceasefire is “critical to giving innocent civilians a much-needed reprieve from violence,” it said.

During the ceasefire, civilians in Gaza will receive urgently needed humanitarian relief and would be able 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.

“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,” Ban and Kerry said in the statement.