CAIRO: Israel has agreed to a 12-hour cease-fire in Gaza, that may extended up to 7 days if it is accepted by both sides, announced U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced Friday in a press conference in Cairo.
“[This is a] Humanitarian ceasefire in honor of Eid in order to be able to bring people together to try to work to create a more durable, sustainable ceasefire,” Kerry said.
The conflict in Gaza, which began early July, has killed over 800 Palestinians, Reuters reported Friday. The United Nations has reported that 5 percent of the total population has sought refuge in facilities managed by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
A UNWRA school was hit by Israeli shells earlier this week, killing 15 Palestinians sheltering inside, in an attack the U.N. Secretary General described as “appalling.”
Friday’s joint press conference was also attended by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry, and they announced the results of their talks over the past days with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“As long as there is occupation of the land, the problem will still exist,” Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi said during the conference, adding that Palestinians must find a way for peace.
Minister Shoukry said the Rafah Crossing is “open,” ”We receive injures daily from Gaza, as we passed more than 600 tons of aids through it. The Israeli roads as well need to be working with us to achieve a normal life for Palestinians”.
Earlier on Friday, AFP reported Friday that Israel had rejected a Gaza ceasefire proposal presented by the U.S. Secretary of State.
Kerry along with officials from Britain, Germany, Italy, the European Union, Turkey and Qatar are scheduled to pursue efforts to secure a ceasefire in Paris on Saturday, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm.
An Egyptian cease-fire initiative was proposed earlier in June, and was accepted by Israel, but was rejected by Hamas. The initiative, which called for the opening of Gaza’s borders, did not make a specific reference to the Rafah crossing, a key demand for Hamas. Shoukry later referred to Egypt’s sovereignty of the crossing as a “red line.”