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Ceasefire Reached in Gaza Conflict

World | November 21, 2012, Wednesday // 22:38| Views: 483 | Comments: 0
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Bulgaria: Ceasefire Reached in Gaza Conflict The Egyptian foreign minister announced the deal alongside Hillary Clinton. Photo by CNN

A ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement which governs Gaza has come into effect.

Under the deal, Israel has agreed to end all hostilities and targeted killings, while Hamas will stop attacks against Israel and along the border.

At least 157 people have died since the flare-up of violence began last week.

Both sides continued to fire on each other as the 21:00 (19:00 GMT) ceasefire deadline approached, but no major breaches have been reported.

Earlier, a bomb exploded on a bus in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv, leaving three people needing surgery.

Israel has agreed to "stop all hostilities on the Gaza Strip, land, sea and air including incursions and targeting of individuals", the ceasefire deal says.

"All Palestinian factions shall stop all hostilities from the Gaza Strip against Israel, including rocket attacks and attacks along the border," it stipulates.

Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal said Israel's offensive had "failed". He also thanked Egypt for the brokering deal, which it said met Hamas's main demands.

The agreement to end the hostilities came after a day of intensive negotiations featuring Clinton, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy and Palestinian officials, and was a surprising cap to a day that saw militants strike deep inside Israel -- with a public bus bombing in Tel Aviv that injured 24 people, according to police.

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said the agreement calls for "complete and total cessation of all hostile activity initiated in the Gaza Strip."

Israel will hold Hamas responsible for any attacks from Gaza, whether conducted by that organization or any others, Regev said. He said the agreement reflects that understanding.

Regev also said the deal calls for immediate talks on economic restrictions on Gaza.

"If the border is quiet, that enables us to be more forthcoming," he said. "The arrangements agreed with the Egyptians say we'll start talking from tomorrow about a process to work on those issues."

A statement from the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had agreed to a US suggestion "to give a chance to Egypt's proposal for a ceasefire and so give an opportunity to stabilise the situation and calm it before there will be need to apply greater force".

Egyptian Foreign Minister Kamel Amr announced the ceasefire at a news conference in Cairo with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who joined negotiations on Wednesday.

For the truce to hold, Clinton said, "the rocket attacks [from Gaza] must end and a broader calm must return".

"Now we have to focus on reaching a durable outcome that promotes regional stability and advances the security, dignity and legitimate aspirations of Palestinians and Israelis alike," she added.

US President Barack Obama praised the Israeli leader for accepting the deal and said he would seek additional funding for the Iron Dome missile defence system, which destroyed dozens of rockets from Gaza in mid-air during the past week.

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