Israel, Palestinians agree to another 72-hour ceasefire

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Gaza/Jerusalem, Aug 11: Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas on Aug 10 accepted a new 72-hour Egyptian-brokered ceasefire in yet another attempt to resume efforts to end the deadly month-long fighting that has killed over 2,000 people in the Gaza Strip.

After tense talks that both sides had threatened to abandon, the surprise truce announcement came late today. "Israel has accepted Egypt's proposal for a 72-hour ceasefire," a senior Israeli official said.

The official added that Israel would send negotiators to Cairo tomorrow if the truce holds. Izzat al-Reshiq, a Hamas negotiator in Cairo said, "In light of Israel's acceptance of the truce and their return without pre-conditions, we will inform the Egyptian brothers of our positive response," the BBC reported. Al-Reshiq said that Palestinians agreed to the ceasefire, adding that this would be the last time Palestinians are willing to participate in negotiations.

In a statement, Egypt's foreign ministry urged both sides to resume indirect negotiations and "work towards a comprehensive and lasting ceasefire agreement". Israel is likely to continue to push for Gaza to be demilitarised, and Hamas will continue to demand the blockade of Gaza to be lifted.

Since the last 72-hour truce ended on Friday, there has been regular exchange of fire as Israeli air strikes have killed at least 20 Palestinians. On the Israeli side, where dozens of communities have been evacuated, residents will also be able to return home.

The temporary cease-fire would allow for negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bader Abdelatty told CNN.

Egypt had earlier asked both sides to resume the cease-fire at midnight local time tonight so that they can resume indirect talks in Cairo, as well as to allow for humanitarian help to get to the victims of the fighting, Abdelatty said.

Over a month of bloody fighting has killed more than 2,000 Palestinians and 67 in Israel, most of them soldiers. About 10,000 people have been injured in the conflict.

PTI

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