Gaza ceasefire: Israel and Palestinians agree to halt weeks of fighting

The Guardian reports: Israel and the Palestinians have agreed to an indefinite ceasefire, putting an end to seven weeks of catastrophic loss of life and destruction – but on terms that are likely to leave many on both sides of the conflict wondering what had been achieved.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the main militant groups in Gaza, the Palestinian Authority and Israel agreed to stop fighting on Tuesday evening, bringing relief to civilians on both sides of the border after rocket fire and air strikes continued in the hours running up to the ceasefire. One Israeli was killed and several injured by a mortar ahead of the announcement, according to Israeli media.

The terms of the deal – brokered by the Egyptian government, and reached on the 50th day of the conflict – are expected to be similar to those agreed at the end of the previous war 21 months ago. Israel will open crossings on its border to allow the movement of people and goods, and extend the permitted fishing zone off the coast of Gaza. Rafah, the border between Gaza and Egypt will also be opened; reconstruction of Gaza will begin.

More difficult issues will be deferred for further talks in about a month. They include Hamas’s demands for an airport and seaport in Gaza and the release of Palestinian prisoners, and Israel’s insistence of the disarmament of militant groups and the return of the remains of two of its soldiers killed in the fighting. [Continue reading…]

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