After eight days of attacks, thousands of rockets and over 150 lives lost, a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza has held for 12 hours, signalling hope the fighting will cease in the long-term.
After the truce was brokered statements were released by both sides that reflected a desire to create a lasting peace.
The Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said a long-standing ceasefire must be achieved, and agreed to ease restrictions on the border crossings. Netanyahu warned that more forceful action could be required if the ceasefire fails, and in a press conference defended the operations, saying they had managed to destroy thousands of missiles and with such a threat, Israel could not have sat on the sidelines.
Hamas termed themselves the victors, but said they would honour the ceasefire, thanking Egypt for its part in negotiating it. Hamas said they would be watching Israel carefully over the next 24 hours to judge whether or not it is committed to a long-term solution, demanding the Gaza Blockade be lifted and Gazans be allowed “to live as any other people in the world.”
The United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised Morsy’s governance in “making Egypt a corner stone of stability and leadership.” US president Barrack Obama in turn praised Netanyahu and promised he would provide more funding for the Iron Dome missile defence system.
The latest Israel-Hamas conflict claimed the lives of at least 155 people, although figures vary. Israel has confirmed four civilians and one soldier died as a result of Gazan rockets, while at least 150 Palestinians have been killed. The Israeli deputy spokesperson for the foreign affairs ministry said that 70 per cent of the casualties inflicted in Gaza were “terrorists,” while Gazan activists claim over half were civilians and almost half of those were children.
The Israeli incursion drew protests around the globe over the past week. On Thursday, thousands of people gathered in Cape Town in south Africa. The demonstrators marched on parliament to demand the government immediately expel the Israeli ambassador and recall theirs, while imposing sanctions on the Israeli government until it “ends its violence against the Palestinian people, abides to international law and respects human rights.”
A series of demonstrations across the US came out in support of Israel’s right to self-defence, condemning Hamas attacks.