(Washington, D.C.) — On the eighth day of “Operation Pillar of Defense,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced a cease fire agreement with all Palestinian factions in Gaza, a deal that has been mediated by Egypt. The cease fire formally went into effect at 9pm local time (2pm eastern). The announcement came towards the end of very intense day of fighting on both sides, including a bus bombing in Tel Aviv that wounded 28 Israelis.
UPDATE: “Hamas blesses the attack in Tel Aviv and sees it as a natural response to the Israeli massacres…in Gaza,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters. “Palestinian factions will resort to all means in order to protect our Palestinian civilians in the absence of a world effort to stop the Israeli aggression.”
UPDATE: At 10:03 PM local time (3:03 PM eastern), Hamas leader Khaled Meshal praised Iran for arming, financing Gaza. Earlier today, Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps commander General Mohammad Ali Jafari confirmed that Iran has been working closely to help Hamas build rockets to attack, terrorize and kill Israeli civilians. “Gaza is under siege, so we cannot help them,” said Jafari. “The Fajr-5 missiles have not been shipped from Iran. Its technology has been transferred and (the missiles are) being produced quickly.”
A few hours ago I landed back in Washington, D.C. after twelve days in Israel and the West Bank. I’ve seen first-hand how painful this war has been for Jews and Arabs. Like many of you, I’ve been praying non-stop for the Lord to restore calm and security on the Israel-Gaza border and stop the fighting. Believers are commanded in Psalm 122:6 to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” The Lord Jesus Christ said in Matthew chapter 5, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Thus, I want to believe that the cease fire will work and that the lives of both Israelis and Palestinians can slowly but surely return to normal. But I’m asking the same question everyone in the region is: Will the agreement hold?
“Now, I know that there are citizens who expect an even more intense military action — and we may very well need one, but at this time the correct thing for the State of Israel is to take advantage of this opportunity for a long lasting truce,” Netanyahu said. “As prime minister, the responsibility rests upon me — and it is my foremost responsibility — to take the correct steps to safeguard our security. That is how I have acted and that is how I shall continue to act….Terrorist organizations [in the Gaza Strip] assumed that [Israel] wouldn’t attack. They were wrong.”
“This is a critical moment for the region,” said Secretary of State Clinton who helped negotiate the deal in Cairo. According to the New York Times, she thanked Egypt’s president, Mohamed Morsi, who played a pivotal role in the negotiations, for “assuming the leadership that has long made this country a cornerstone of regional stability and peace.”
“More than 140 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip toward southern Israel on Tuesday, including one that scored a direct hit on a building in Rishon Letzion, wounding two people,” reports Haaretz. “The Palestinians reported that five people were killed in the Strip on Tuesday morning, and put the total death toll in Gaza at 130, including 31 children. Five Israelis have been killed since the conflict began.”
Following is the verbatim English text of the ceasefire agreement between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza that was reached on Wednesday with Egyptian mediation.
The text was distributed by the Egyptian presidency.
Agreement of Understanding For a Ceasefire in the Gaza Strip
1: (no title given for this section)
A. Israel should stop all hostilities in the Gaza Strip land, sea and air including incursions and targeting of individuals.
B. All Palestinian factions shall stop all hostilities from the Gaza Strip against Israel including rocket attacks and all attacks along the border.
C. Opening the crossings and facilitating the movements of people and transfer of goods and refraining from restricting residents’ free movements and targeting residents in border areas and procedures of implementation shall be dealt with after 24 hours from the start of the ceasefire.
D. Other matters as may be requested shall be addressed.
2: Implementation mechanisms:
A. Setting up the zero hour for the ceasefire understanding to enter into effect.
B. Egypt shall receive assurances from each party that the party commits to what was agreed upon.
C. Each party shall commit itself not to perform any acts that would breach this understanding. In case of any observations Egypt as the sponsor of this understanding shall be informed to follow up.
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