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Israel finally accepts Hamas ceasefire offer

Following months of talks, Hamas and Israel finally agreed to an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire, which came into effect at dawn on 19 June.

Under the terms of the truce Hamas is to stop all attacks from Gaza, and Israel is to stop military strikes and gradually lift the debilitating blockade it has imposed on the impoverished territory. The ceasefire is supposed to hold for at least six months.

The agreement comes after a year that has seen the deaths of 400 Palestinians and seven Israelis. Violence continued almost until the very hour of the truce.
The day before the agreement Israeli air strikes killed six Gazan fighters, and the hours leading up the start of the truce saw Palestinian rocket and mortar fire and an Israeli air strike, which killed a Hamas militant.

Unsurprisingly, the truce is considered extremely fragile by both sides. Israeli defence minister Ehud Barack said: “We don’t know how long it can hold, two days or two months. Historically we have been on a collision curve with Hamas.”

In the same week that the ceasefire was declared, Israel announced it would be constructing yet more housing in illegally annexed East Jerusalem.
At the end of May, former US president Jimmy Carter described Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip as “one of the greatest human rights crimes on Earth”