Israel and Hamas announced Tuesday evening that they had agreed to an Egyptian-brokered, open-ended ceasefire, after seven weeks of fighting left more than 2,200 people dead and tens of thousands wounded, the vast majority Palestinians.
Although the ceasefire went into effect at 7 p.m., both sides engaged in violence until the last minute. In Israel, a mortar attack killed two men in Kibbutz Nirim. Palestinians reported that an airstrike destroyed a seven-story building in Beit Lahiya.
Officials from both Hamas and Islamic Jihad stated that the ceasefire included an Israeli agreement to ease its blockade of Gaza to allow relief supplies and construction materials. According to an Israeli official, the supplies will enter the Strip under supervision.
However, Haaretz’s Barak Ravid reported that the ceasefire proposal does not include Hamas’ demands for a seaport, an airport or the release of prisoners. In future negotiations, said the official, both sides will present their demands, and Israel will raise the issue of demilitarizing the Gaza Strip.
Haaretz also reported that senior Hamas member Musa Abu Marzouk stated that the deal guarantees Hamas clerks will be paid their salaries by the Palestinian unity government, which will also be responsible for the reconstruction of the Strip. Meanwhile, Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram reported that the deal between Israel and the Palestinians includes permitting fishing at a distance of between 11 and 22 kilometers from the Strip’s shore.
Ziad Nakhala, a senior Islamic Jihad official, said talks on more complex issues would begin in a month.
Thousands of Palestinians poured into the streets of Gaza Tuesday night, as well as in refugee camps in southern Lebanon, to celebrate what they viewed as a victory for Hamas. Israeli officials claimed their own victory, saying that the military dealt a strong blow to Hamas, killed several of its military leaders and destroyed the organizations’s underground tunnels.