Egypt FM announces that Israel and Hamas have agreed that a cease-fire will go into effect at 9pm local time.
Kamal Amr makes formal announcement of truce in joint press conference with Clinton in Cairo; sources say Israel will not lift Gaza blockade; Netanyahu tells Obama he’s ready to give cease-fire a chance.
Egypt announced on Wednesday that a cease-fire had been reached to end eight days of fighting between Israel and the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, starting at 9 p.m.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr made the announcement in a joint news conference with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“These efforts … have resulted in understandings to cease fire and restore calm and halt the bloodshed that the last period has seen,” Amr said.
Israel has agreed to the truce, but will not lift its blockade of Gaza as part of the deal, according to an Israeli official.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman were set to address the media at 8.30 pm. Wednesday night.
Netanyahu told US President Barack Obama on Wednesday he was ready to give a ceasefire with Hamas a chance, his office said in a statement.
“(Netanyahu) spoke a short while ago with President Barack Obama and agreed to his recommendation to give the Egyptian ceasefire proposal a chance, and in this way provide an opportunity to stabilize the situation and calm it before any more forceful action would be necessary,” an Israeli statement said.
More than 140 Palestinians and five Israelis have been killed in the fighting that began last Wednesday.
The ceasefire was forged despite a bus bomb explosion that wounded 28 Israelis in Tel Aviv earlier in the day and despite more Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip.
After talks in Ramallah with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Clinton held a second meeting with Netanyahu before traveling to Egypt for discussions with Morsi, whose country has led mediation efforts.
In Tel Aviv, targeted by rockets from Gaza that either did not hit the city or were shot down by Israel’s Iron Dome interceptor system, 28 people were wounded when a bus was blown up near the Defense Ministry and military headquarters.
The blast, which police said was caused by a bomb placed on the vehicle, touched off celebratory gunfire in Gaza and had threatened to complicate truce efforts. It was the first serious bombing in Israel’s commercial capital since 2006.
In Gaza, Israel struck more than 100 targets, including a cluster of Hamas government buildings, in attacks that medical officials said killed 10 people, among them a 2-year-old boy.
Medical officials in Gaza said 146 Palestinians, more than half of them civilians, including 36 children, have been killed in Israel’s offensive. Nearly 1,400 rockets have been fired into Israel, killing four civilians and a soldier, the military said.
Jpost.com Staff contributed to this report.
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