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Israel, Hamas agree to Gaza ceasefire

Posted on Nov 22, 02:26PM | IBNS

Israel and Hamas on Wednesday agreed to a ceasefire brokered by Egypt after eight days of intense fighting, Egyptian officials said.

Egyptian foreign minister Mohamed Kamel Amr thanked all parties involved in brokering the truce as he made the announcement in a joint news conference with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Cairo.

In Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed the deal but warned that more forceful action may be necessary if the ceasefire fails.

He had agreed to the ceasefire after consulting with U.S. President Barack Obama.

Under the ceasefire terms, Israel was to stop all aggression against the Gaza Strip from land, sea and air, including cross-border incursions and targeted killings.

Palestinian factions were to cease all aggression from Gaza towards Israel, including rocket fire and attacks on the border.

Twenty-four hours after the ceasefire takes effect, Israel will also be committed to opening of all border crossings and ease restrictions on movements of people and goods in and out of the enclave.

Earlier, Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Wednesday said India urges for immediate restoration of peace in violence-hit Gaza.

The Palestinian side has marked a protest with the Ministry of External Affairs saying that the response by the Indian side is very weak.

Condemning the attack and the killing of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Khurshid told reporters here: "We did say very categorically that disproportionate use of force is unacceptable. This is a very sad and tragic escalation of violence that has caused loss of some innocent lives, particularly of women and children. We consider that completely unacceptable."

"We urge that peace must be restored immediately and whatever efforts are being made for peace being restored and de-escalation of violence takes place. Our effort is that we support categorically. And we expect and hope that that is what will happen."

Khurshid said India will keep supporting the Palestinian cause.

"We also want to make it very clear that our support for the Palestinian cause remains undiluted. We would reconfirm that support. We believe that Palestine deserves an independent sovereign state with East Jerusalem as its capital. We are confirming that position.

"But at the same time I think what is important right now is that de-escalation take place, peace return, and that the disproportionate use of force that is being inflicted is something that is completely and totally unacceptable."

Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed echoed Khurshid and said the violence has to be stopped immediately as early as possible.

"As far as Gaza violence is concerned, we have already expressed our anxiety, our concern everything. The violence has to be stopped immediately as early as possible. We also added that disproportionate use of force by Israel which resulted in the death of innocent people including women and children is not only unacceptable, it is in a way contemptuous also," said Ahamed.

"At the very same time we want the peace to prevail over there, and aspirations of Palestinian people to justice, freedom and a state of their own with demarcated boundary and also a sovereign state with East Jerusalem as the capital is to be realized."