The Egyptian foreign ministry confirmed Tuesday that an indefinite ceasefire has been reached between Palestinian factions and Israel, with both sides claiming to have forced the other into the agreement.
Hamas, the main belligerent in the Gaza Strip, released a “statement of pride and victory” following the acceptance of the truce on Tuesday evening, which stipulates indirect negotiations must resume in Cairo within one month.
The agreement also includes the opening of the crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip for efficient reconstruction and the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza, where infrastructure was badly damaged during the conflict that lasted for 50 days, punctuated with uneasy and temporary ceasefires. The agreement will also see the extension of the Gaza fishing zone to six nautical miles.
Hamas attributed the “victory over the Zionist enemy” to the people of Gaza. The group said the “Palestinian resistance triumphed militarily before the end of the war”, pointing out that it “remained standing in front of the arsenal of Zionist terrorism”.
The conflict, which began on 8 July, has claimed the lives of at least 2,137 people inside the Gaza Strip including 577 children, according to the Gazan ministry of health. On the Israeli side, 69 people were killed, including three civilians and one child. The Israeli foreign ministry reported on Tuesday that one hour before the ceasefire began (1900 local time) a “mortar attack” killed one and injured five others and “a second victim, mortally wounded, died later”. Among the Israelis killed over the course of the conflict was a four-year-old child.
Ofir Gendelman, the Israeli Prime Minister’s spokesman for Arab media, had a different view of how the two sides reached an agreement. Taking to his official social media platforms Gendelman said: “Hamas gave in [and] accepted today the same Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire it rejected until now. The reason for the change: [Israel Defense Forces’] airstrikes”. He described Hamas’ claim of victory as “fictitious” adding that it would not “mask the stinging public criticism for the suffering it caused among the people of Gaza”. He attributed Hamas’ acceptance of the ceasefire to “the military pressure Israel put on Hamas in recent days”.
The Egyptian brokered ceasefire aims to go further than settling the latest conflict but will seek to find a lasting peace agreement to the decades old conflict. When announcing the ceasefire, Egypt’s foreign ministry reiterated its commitment “to achieve the aspirations of the Palestinian people and support their leadership”. The ministry added that it is concerned with the “promotion of peace and stability in the region through the establishment of an independent Palestinian state”.
US Secretary of State John Kerry lauded Egypt for its efforts in reaching the agreement on Tuesday, a sentiment shared by the United Kingdom’s Minister for the Middle East Tobias Ellwood. Kerry said he assured both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that the US “is ready to continue our engagement” to address “long-term issues”.