Israel, Hamas agree to 72-hour ceasefire
Israel and the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas have agreed to an unconditional 72-hour ceasefire so that the brutalized people in the Gaza Strip find a brief respite from relentless Israeli attacks.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry issued a joint statement late on Thursday, saying the three-day ceasefire will commence at 8 a.m. local time (0500 GMT) on Friday.
"This ceasefire is critical to giving innocent civilians a much-needed reprieve from violence," Kerry and Ban said in the statement, adding, "We urge all parties to act with restraint until this humanitarian ceasefire begins, and to fully abide by their commitments during the cease-fire."
Kerry, however, said Israel will continue what he called defensive operations behind its lines against Palestinian tunnels.
Hamas Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri confirmed that the movement has accepted the 72-hour truce, noting that Palestinian fighters will abide by the ceasefire as long as the other side abides by it.
Earlier in the day, the UN Security Council called for an immediate end to the merciless killing of people in the besieged Gaza Strip by the Israeli regime.
"Council members called for an immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire," said Rwandan Deputy UN Ambassador Olivier Nduhungirehe in a press statement read out after a Security Council session.
Meanwhile, the death toll from the ongoing Israeli aerial and ground offensive in the war-stricken Gaza Strip keeps rising.
Israel has been pounding the Gaza Strip since July 8. Israeli forces also began a ground offensive against the impoverished Palestinian territory on July 17.
More than 1,437 Palestinians have so far been killed and over 8,000 others injured since the Israeli military first launched its offensive on Gaza on July 8.
The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, has been launching retaliatory attacks against Israel.
Israeli sources have confirmed the deaths of 56 soldiers, but Hamas says the toll is over 130.