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Long-term cease-fire goes into effect in Gaza
Courtesy: Gigi Ibrahim

After nearly two months of combat that claimed at least 2,139 Palestinian lives, Hamas and Israel agreed to an unlimited cease-fire in Gaza on Tuesday night, which went into effect at 7 pm.

The negotiations for this latest cease-fire agreement were based on the initiative first proposed by Egypt in July, as well as the 2012 Cairo agreement brokered by former President Mohamed Morsi’s administration during Israel’s Operation Returning Echo.

Egyptian Foreign Affairs Minister Sameh Shoukry issued a statement Tuesday night saying the goal of the long-term truce was to protect innocent souls and stop the bloodshed.

For Hamas, the cease-fire was conditional on opening the border crossing between Gaza and Israel to ensure the quick injection of humanitarian aid and reconstruction supplies into the devastated Palestinian enclave. The fishing zone 6 km off of Gaza lands will also be extended.

Hamas and Israel are to continue indirect negotiations on other issues in the coming months, including the release of Palestinian prisoners.

Regarding Egypt’s role in the talks, Shoukry said that the country was committed to fulfilling its historical mandate to maintain peace and fulfilling its national, Arab and regional responsibilities.

The new agreement aims to “work to achieve the Palestinian people’s wishes and support their leadership, as well as strengthen peace and stability in the region through establishing an independent Palestinian state,” Shoukry continued.

Earlier on Tuesday, a Palestinian official told Reuters that Hamas leaders were willing to accept the proposal if Israel was.

The two sides were reportedly able to come to the agreement by postponing negotiations on certain hot button issues that had hindered truce talks over the past month, the official explained.

Egypt had been urging all parties to accept the open-ended cease-fire and resume indirect talks in Cairo since Saturday, after last week’s talks fell apart when Israel resumed heavy shelling on Gaza, killing three top Hamas leaders. Israel had ordered its delegation to leave the negotiation table and return to Tel Aviv last Tuesday.

Following a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Saturday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had praised “Egypt’s essential part in Gaza negotiations.” Meanwhile, Hamas officials had issued a statement on Saturday saying that it supported any “true effort that guarantees the realization of Palestinian demands,” and that it would consider all proposals that it receives.

Also on Tuesday, an official at the Rafah border crossing confirmed the arrival of Saudi and Omani aid convoys en route to Gaza, the privately owned newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm (AMAY) reported.

The convoys include 19 trucks carrying medical supplies, in addition to other humanitarian aid destined for Gaza residents displaced by the Israeli assault.