Israel and Hamas Agree to New 72 Hour Ceasefire
Confirmed deaths of four Palestinians on Sunday include a woman and two children, one shot in the West Bank
Israel has followed Hamas in agreeing to the Egypt-brokered 72 hour ceasefire, which comes into affect at 2100 GMT on Sunday evening.
The Palestinian delegate on Sunday accepted a second 72-hour ceasefire proposal brokered by Egypt, despite the news that airstrikes continued to hammer the closed-off territory.
According to reports, attacks by Israeli forces killed three people in Gaza on Sunday, including a woman and a 14-year-old boy. Also, Ma'an News reports that the IDF shot and killed a 12-year-old boy near Hebron in the West Bank while the troops were escorting Israeli engineers into a neighborhood known as Nabat al-Haffara for "unknown reasons."
"We are here to look for an agreement. We cannot have an agreement without talks, so we accepted an Egyptian proposal to have a cease-fire for 72 hours in order to resume the talks," said a Palestinian negotiator. There was no immediate Israeli response.
Earlier, Hamas's deputy chairman and lead negotiator, Moussa Abu Marzouk, told the Guardian's Patrick Kingsley that the Palestinian delegation was contemplating abandoning talks because Israel has never formally addressed the Palestinians demands, namely to end the 8-year blockade of the Gaza Strip.
However, according to the Associated Press, the Palestinian delegation may now be "softening" their demands.
"We might not get everything we want, particularly on freedom of movement. But we believe the Israelis and the world have gotten the point that Gazans should live normally and things should be much better than today," said one negotiator.
Reporting on his conversation with Marzouk, Kingsley wrote:
Marzouk said the concession Hamas most wanted from Israel was the right to build a port and airport in Gaza, facilities promised to the Palestinians under the Oslo peace deal. In return, he said Hamas had no problem with relinquishing power to a Palestinian Authority-led unity government that "should control everything in Gaza", including its border crossings.
But he said Hamas would not agree to disarm while the Gaza strip was still occupied. "Disarming is out of the question. There is no discussion. It's not on the negotiation table. There is no force that can take away from the Palestinian resistance their right to resistance, nor their tools to resist."
Marzouk also denied that Hamas should down its arms in order to protect innocent lives in Gaza, saying that it was Israel's responsibility to stop bombing civilians. He also denied that Hamas fighters endanger civilians by firing rockets from civilian areas.
"I cannot understand how [Hamas's critics] always blame the weak, the party that gets attacked. Who started the battle? … Did Israel really have to kill all this number in order to get their targets? To demolish all these houses in order to achieve their goals? The ones who should be blamed are the Israelis."
Blaming Hamas's rockets for the ongoing military offensive, Israel's prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, said Sunday that Israel refuses to negotiate "under fire."
"At no stage did we declare [Israel's military offensive] was over," Netanyahu continued. "The operation will continue until its objective – the restoration of quiet over a protracted period – is achieved. I said at the beginning and throughout the operation – it will take time, and stamina is required."