A new 72-hour cease-fire, brokered by Egypt, has been agreed between Israel and Hamas. The fresh three-day truce came into force at 8 am local time.
The much-awaited cease-fire comes after numerous other failed attempts by members of the international community to broker a truce between the two groups including the 72-hour cease-fire brokered by US and UN last week, which collapsed within hours of its taking place. The question being asked now is how long will this truce last.
Israeli media reports have quoted military sources as saying they have accomplished their mission of destroying the militants' tunnels used to infiltrate into Israeli border – an incident that is likely to ensure some calm from the Israeli side.
Gaza officials have claimed that the four-week conflict has killed over 1,800 Palestinians, most of them civilians. On the Israeli side, some 67 people have died.
There has been several truces called during the conflict, but none of them have lasted for more than a few hours with each side accusing the other of breaking the truce.
"At 8am local time tomorrow a cease-fire starts and Israel will cease all military operations against terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip," said Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev on Monday. "Israel will honour the cease-fire and will be watching to see if Hamas does too."
This comes as a delegation of Palestinian officials from various factions, including Hamas, has been negotiating with Egypt in recent days. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhaum has said the group had accepted the truce.
"It's clear now that the interest of all parties is to have a cease-fire," CBS quoted Bassam Salhi, a member of the Palestinian delegation. "It's going to be tough negotiations because Israel has demands too."
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement early Tuesday morning calling both parties to respect the terms of the truce. He also called on both the sides to meet in Cairo and begin talks for long-term cease-fire agreements as soon as possible.
The volatile situation in the war has, however, forced both the sides to remain cautious. Jerusalem Post reported citing Senior Israeli diplomatic officials that Israel was prepared for the possibility that Hamas would violate the cease-fire, as it has been alleged of doing in the past.
The officials also stressed that the truce was unconditional and pointed out that its acceptance came after Israel completed its mission of destroying the "terror" tunnels.