Hamas accepts UN-proposed ceasefire in Gaza for 72 hours

GAZA, (PNA/Xinhua) — Islamic Hamas movement and other Palestinian factions accepted early on Friday a UN-proposed ceasefire for 72 hours with Israel, said a senior Hamas official.

Izzat al-Resheq, member in Qatar based-Hamas politburo and closed to Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal, confirmed the three-day humanitarian truce deal on his personal Facebook page.

“Responding to the United Nations calls and putting in considerations our people’s circumstances, the Palestinian factions accepted a mutual humanitarian ceasefire for 72 hours,” al-Resheq wrote.

He also said that the ceasefire will come into effect at 8 a.m. (5:00 am GMT) on Friday morning, adding “The Palestinian factions, including Hamas will be committed to the ceasefire as long as Israel is committed to it.”

On late Thursday night, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced separately that Israel and Hamas agreed another temporary humanitarian ceasefire as their bloody conflict has been raging on for almost one month in the Gaza Strip.

According to a statement issued by the UN, during the ceasefire, “forces on the ground will remain in place,” which implies that Israel will maintain its military presence in the Strip when the truce is effective.

“We urge all parties to act with restraint until this humanitarian ceasefire begins, and to fully abide by their commitments during the ceasefire,” said the two who have been quite engaged in facilitating a comprehensive truce deal, adding that “This ceasefire is critical to giving innocent civilians a much-needed reprieve from violence.”

However, the top U.S. diplomat, who is on a visit to India, said that Israel will keep up “defensive” operations to destroy tunnels during the newly-agreed truce in Gaza. Earlier, Israel said it is determined to root out the Hamas tunnels with or without a truce.

Also on Friday, a U.S. official, who is currently accompanying Kerry in India, said Israeli and Palestinian negotiators will meet as early as Friday in Egypt over a Gaza ceasefire, adding that acting U.S. Middle East envoy Frank Lowenstein plans to head for Cairo for the talks.

Israel launched in July 8 a large-scale operation on the Gaza Strip which killed more than 1,400 Palestinians, wounded more than 8,000 and destroyed around 2,000 houses, according to the health ministry statement in Gaza.

Israel said that more than 45 Israeli soldiers were killed and dozens injured since the start of the ground operation in the Gaza Strip in July 11, three days after launching the operation Protective Edge.