72-hour truce in Gaza. Israel withdraws troops to "defensive positions"
Jerusalem (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Israel and Hamas have both agreed to a 72 hours ceasefire from this morning at 8 am (local time). The decision was taken yesterday in Cairo, accepted by the Palestinian delegation and by and Israel, which had not sent any representatives to the Egyptian capital. Three days ago another truce failed after just a few hours.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appealed to both sides for "maximum restraint" and to take advantage of the ceasefire to "begin the dialogue in Cairo... on pressing issues as soon as possible."
Israel wants the Strip demilitarized; Hamas wants an end to the blockade of Gaza and border crossings to Israel and Egypt re-opened.
Ban praised the efforts of the leader of the Palestinian delegation, President Mahmoud Abbas.
Israel has also announced that it will withdraw its troops out of the Gaza Strip, to "defensive positions". The Israeli army claims to have already reached its goal: the total destruction of the underground tunnels from Gaza into Israeli territory, that were to be used for possible "terrorist actions".
Echoing this there were two attacks in Jerusalem yesterday. In the first, a Palestinian from East Jerusalem drove an excavator against a bus, killing one person and injuring six others. The police killed him. The other incident occurred near the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus, where a person driving a motorcycle killed a policeman.
In all likelihood Israel accepted the ceasefire fearing renewed terrorist attacks, and especially following international pressure and accusations of possible war crimes committed by the army on the Palestinian population.
In almost a month of war, at least 1,868 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed. The Israeli side has lost 64 soldiers and three civilians, including a Thai migrant.