Israel, Palestinians agree on long-term Gaza ceasefire

Israel, Palestinians agree on long-term Gaza ceasefire

Israel, Palestinians agree on long-term Gaza ceasefire

Israel and the Palestinians today agreed on a long-term Egyptian-brokered ceasefire to end the devastating 50-day war in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip that has killed over 2,200 people.

"An agreement has been reached between the two sides and we are awaiting the announcement from Cairo to determine the zero hour for implementation," said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri.

Zuhri said Egypt was expected to make an official announcement on the deal. Cairo's initiative, Palestinians officials said, called for an indefinite halt to seven weeks of hostilities, the immediate opening of Gaza's blockaded crossings with Israel and Egypt and a widening of the enclave's fishing zone in the Mediterranean, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Under a second stage that would begin a month later, Israel and the Palestinians would discuss the construction of a Gaza sea port and an Israeli release of Hamas prisoners in the West Bank, the officials said.

A senior Palestinian official also confirmed that the Palestinians have reached an agreement with Israel on a "permanent" truce in Gaza. There was no immediate comment from Israel on the claimed deal to end the deadly conflict in and around the enclave.

The Palestinian official gave no time for when a ceasefire would take effect but said President Mahmud Abbas would give further details in a speech from his West Bank headquarters at 1600 GMT (2130 IST).

"The contacts that have been going on have led to a permanent ceasefire, a (deal to) end the blockade and a guarantee that Gaza's demands and needs will be met," the official said speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Islamist Hamas movement, de facto ruler of Gaza and party to the Abbas-led efforts to agree a truce, also said a deal had been struck with Israel.

"The negotiations ended with an agreement which embodies the resistance of our people and a victory for the resistance," its exiled deputy leader Mussa Abu Marzuk wrote on his Facebook page.

The Palestinian official said the truce deal had been finalised after 48 hours of intensive shuttle diplomacy by Azzam al-Ahmed, head of the Palestinian delegation to the protracted, on-off truce talks in Cairo.

"Over the past 48 hours, he has been shuttling between the leadership of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, all the factions, and Egyptian leaders, travelling between Ramallah, Gaza, Doha and overseas," the official said.

Israel launched 'Operation Protective Edge' on July 8 aiming to end rocket attacks by Gaza-based Hamas militants and since then the fighting has killed 2,137 Palestinians and 68 Israelis.

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