Hamas Agrees to 72-Hour Ceasefire
Hamas has agreed to observe a 72-hour ceasefire in the Gaza conflict to take effect Friday morning, if Israel does the same, a spokesman for the group told AFP late on Thursday night.
"Hamas and all the resistance movements have accepted a 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire from 8:00 am Friday (0500 GMT) which will be respected by all these movements if the other party (Israel) also observes the ceasefire," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum told the news agency.
The announcement came after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the sides had agreed to the ceasefire, adding that Israelis and Palestinian Arabs would enter talks in Cairo.
"This ceasefire is critical to giving innocent civilians a much-needed reprieve from violence," Kerry said in a hastily arranged mid-morning statement on a visit to New Delhi.
"During this period, civilians in Gaza will receive urgently needed humanitarian relief, and the opportunity to carry out vital functions, including burying the dead, taking care of the injured, and restocking food supplies," he added.
A U.S. official told AFP following Kerry’s announcement that Israeli and Palestinian Arab negotiators will meet as soon as Friday in Egypt to start discussions.
The official, who was accompanying Kerry on a visit to India, said that acting U.S. Middle East envoy Frank Lowenstein would head Friday to Cairo for the talks.
Egypt’s foreign minister later announced that Cairo had invited Israel and the Palestinian Authority to send delegates for truce talks.
The delegations, which will include representatives of Hamas in Gaza, are expected to depart at any moment, a senior Hamas official said.