Egypt announced on Wednesday that a ceasefire had been reached to end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, ending a week of violence in and around the Gaza Strip that killed more than 150 people.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr made the announcement in a joint news conference with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, saying the ceasefire would come into effect within less than two hours.
“Egypt has made great efforts ... since the start of the latest escalation in the Gaza Strip,” Amr said.
“[The ceasefire] will come into effect at nine Cairo time,” 1900 GMT, he added.
“These efforts and contacts have resulted in understandings to cease fire and restore calm and halt the bloodshed that the last period has seen,” he added.
“Egypt calls on all to monitor the implementation of what has been agreed under Egypt’s sponsorship and to guarantee the commitment of all the parties to what has been agreed,” he said.
A senior Hamas official told AFP earlier that Hamas and Israel had agreed on a deal to end a deadly week-long conflict in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday.
“The deal has been agreed. There will be an announcement in half an hour,” the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
In Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed the deal, saying he had agreed after consulting with President Barack Obama.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement he agrees to give Egypt’s truce proposal “a chance.”
Accordingly, U.S. President Barack Obama praised Israeli PM decision on Wednesday for agreeing to support an Egyptian plan for a ceasefire, the White House said.
“The president commended the prime minister for agreeing to the Egyptian ceasefire proposal, which the president recommended the prime minster do, while reiterating that Israel maintains the right to defend itself,” it said.
The agreement came after a day of shuttle diplomacy -- led by Clinton and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon -- which was marred by more deadly cross-border violence between Israel and militants in Gaza.
Hopes for a truce appeared to have been faint just hours earlier as a blast tore through a bus in Tel Aviv and Israel hit back with deadly air raids on Gaza City and elsewhere in the Palestinian territory.
The conflict had threatened to take a new turn on Wednesday when a bomb ripped through a commuter bus in Israel's commercial capital, injuring 17 people and sparking panic.