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Monday 22nd September 2014
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New Ceasefire Between Israel And Hamas Holding

Wednesday, 27th August 2014 13:19

An open-ended ceasefire in Israel and Gaza appears to be holding amid hopes it will eventually lead to a peace deal.

Thousands of people came out overnight to celebrate the truce, which was brokered in Egypt and came into effect at 4pm GMT on Tuesday.

It ended 50 days of fighting which has claimed the lives of 2,143 Palestinians, including 500 children, and 70 on the Israeli side.

The agreement has been hailed by Washington and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who said he hoped it would set the stage for a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Both Israel and the Islamist Hamas movement, which controls Gaza, have hailed the ceasefire as a victory, although commentators say there was no winner.

"After 50 days of fighting, the two sides were exhausted. That's why they reached a ceasefire," said Middle East expert Eyal Zisser.

Under the terms of the truce Israel will ease restrictions on imports to Gaza, including aid and material for reconstruction.

It will also expand the area open to Palestinian fishermen from three to six nautical miles.

Hamas has demanded the start of building works on a seaport and airport, but Israel says it will only allow that to happen if the group disarms - a call which has been rejected.

These and other complex issues including the release of prisoners will be discussed at talks due to take place in Cairo within a month.

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev told Sky News his side would honour the ceasefire and he hoped Hamas would do the same.

He blamed Hamas for the recent "carnage" and said the only way to achieve lasting peace in the region would be for them to disarm.

"The way to avoid future conflict is to prevent Hamas from re-arming and to implement the (peace) document signed by the Palestinians in 2012," he said.

Hamas maintains Israel is to blame for the latest round of fighting and says disarming is out of the question in the present climate.