Middle East News

New Ceasefire Reported In Gaza

An Egyptian-brokered 72-hour cease-fire was announced late Monday and both the Israelis and Hamas appear to have agreed to abide by it, according to the New York Times.

The Egyptian cease-fire, which is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. local time on Tuesday, was created “out of concern for innocent lives and to prevent further bloodshed,” and would initially last for 72 hours, an Egypt Foreign Ministry statement said.

But given the history of broken cease-fires in the current conflict, it was unclear that both sides would honor Egypt’s proposal, which was almost identical to the one rejected by Hamas three weeks ago.

The damage to Gaza’s infrastructure from the current conflict is already more severe than the destruction caused by either of the last two Gaza wars.

The IDF has essentially finished destroying Hamas’s tunnels into Israel and, having crippled Hamas’s military capacity, the Israelis appear to be moving their troops to defensive positions on both sides of the border. The army — and particularly the air force — will respond to any further attacks, including rocket fire by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, but the hope, Israeli officials say, is that the conflict will slowly wind down and stop.

After the quick breakdown of last Friday’s cease-fire, the Israelis are extremely skeptical of Hamas’ intentions, according to Fox News, but the Israelis appear to be willing to see what the Egyptian government can achieve with Palestinian negotiators in Cairo. Israeli officials say they do not oppose a new arrangement with Hamas and the Palestinians, nor the possibility of reviewing the terms of the negotiated cease-fire agreement that ended the brief, last conflict in Gaza, in November 2012. That agreement called for opening the crossings in Gaza, easing the movement of people and the transfer of goods and extending fishing limits.

And Israeli officials said they were conscious of the need for the reconstruction of Gaza, which will require significant imports of building materials, but insist that it is to be supervised by Egypt through Rafah, at the Gaza-Egypt border, or by Israel through its main crossing at Kerem Shalom.

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