Egypt brokered a new 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire between Palestinian factions and Israel, the second in under a week, which started at one minute past midnight on Sunday.
The Israeli foreign ministry confirmed that the ceasefire came into effect, “after Israel said it would not negotiate in Cairo unless the rockets stopped”. It also reported that in the minutes leading up to the ceasefire rockets were fired towards Beersheba and the Israeli capital Tel Aviv.
Head of the Palestinian delegation in Cairo confirmed the acceptance of the 72-hour truce in a Sunday statement saying he was keen on “stopping Israeli stalling and procrastination to work on the completion of final understandings of the demands made by the Palestinian side”.
The indirect talks in Cairo continue to use an Egyptian ceasefire initiative, which was first presented on 14 July but rejected by Hamas after the group claimed it was not officially approached to participate. Israel accepted the agreement but resumed its airstrikes after it was apparent that the deal had not been accepted by Hamas. The conflict, which began on 8 July, has killed over 2,000. In Gaza alone 1,948 people have been killed, including “1,402 civilians, of whom 456 are children and 237 are women”, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Paul Hirschson, an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman, said on Monday that after various attempts at a ceasefire the “level of trust is not that high”. He said Israel “didn’t want to be in this situation and tried to get out of it” through the ceasefires proposed by the United States, United Nations and Egypt. Hirschson stressed that from the talks, Israel is “looking for a formula that ensures terror organisations stop targeting the Israeli public”.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Nentanyahu insisted on Sunday that Israel would “not negotiate under fire”.
Hamas’ political bureau chief Khaled Meshaal reiterated on Sunday in an interview with AFP that there could be no long lasting truce that does not include lifting of the air, land and sea blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has been in place since 2007, with Egypt controlling the southern Rafah border. Meshaal also took a swipe at Netanyahu, saying that he had “failed militarily” and is “trying to achieve through negotiations what he has failed to achieve by military means”.
Under the terms of the previous ceasefire agreement both parties sent delegations to Cairo for indirect talks, which broke down after Israel accused Hamas of breaking the truce just four hours before it was set to end. The Israeli delegation left Egypt and the Palestinians threatened to follow suit, leaving Cairo scrambling to salvage the talks on Sunday. The Egyptian foreign ministry released a statement on Sunday evening urging both sides to accept the new ceasefire initiative “to create the conditions for the flow of humanitarian aid and relief necessary reform infrastructure”.