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72-hour ceasefire starts in Gaza, Israeli army withdraws troops

August 05, 2014, 10:46 UTC+3 TEL-AVIV
Meanwhile, Palestinian radical militants have launched several missiles on Israeli cities just a few seconds before the ceasefire started
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TEL AVIV, August 05. /ITAR-TASS/. A 72-hour ceasefire has started in the Gaza Strip at 5 a.m. UTC on Tuesday.

Israel Defense Forces have withdrawn all troops from the enclave by this time after destroying the last terrorist tunnel they were aware of, an Israeli military command official told ITAR-TASS.

Meanwhile, Palestinian radical militants have launched several missiles on Israeli cities just a few seconds before the ceasefire started.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed the ceasefire declared in Gaza and urged the conflict sides to observe the ceasefire regime.

“The Secretary-General welcomes the efforts leading to a new ceasefire as announced today. He commends the parties for committing to this ceasefire of 72 hours, to begin Tuesday, 5 August, at 08:00 a.m., local time (05:00 UTC), and calls on them to abide by it. Until the start of the ceasefire, the parties must exercise the utmost restraint,” the UN said in a statement.

“The Secretary-General urges the parties to commence, as soon as possible, talks in Cairo on a durable ceasefire and the underlying issues. In this regard, he welcomes the proactive engagement of the Palestinian delegation under the leadership of President Abbas. Such talks are the only way to sustainably stop the violence, which has cost far too many lives, and to change the untenable and tragic status quo in Gaza. The United Nations stands ready to lend its full support to these efforts,” the statement says.

ITAR-TASS correspondent in Tel Aviv Andrei Shirokov reported earlier that Israel would accept the ceasefire conditions in Gaza, proposed by Egypt. The HAMAS group has also said in was ready for a three-day armistice, Reuters reported.

The 72-hour ceasefire is expected to allow the sides to launch the negotiating process for stopping hostilities in Gaza. According to some reports, Egypt has already invited the Israeli and Palestinian delegations to Cairo for talks on long-term ceasefire.

For 29 days of the Protective Edge operation, the Israeli army has hit 4.8 thousand targets and has eliminated 32 underground tunnels which radical elements used for attacks on Israelis. At least 900 terrorists were killed, the army said.

Israel has earlier accepted Egypt-brokered ceasefire terms in Gaza for 72 hours, a governmental source in Jerusalem told ITAR-TASS. A ceasefire will start at 5 a.m. UTC on Tuesday.

“Israel will accept the 72-hour ceasefire on Egypt’s initiative,” the government source said, adding “At first Israel has backed the Egyptian proposal and insisted on the gunfire to be stopped without any preconditions.” “If ceasefire terms are fulfilled, Israel’s military presence in Gaza will be needed no longer,” the source added.

The 72-hour ceasefire is expected to permit conflicting parties to begin talks seeking to end military actions in the Gaza Strip.

Israel has launched military campaign Protective Edge on July 8 and has delivered air and naval strikes on targets in the Palestinian enclave to suppress missile shelling of the Jewish state for ten first days. The ground stage of the military operation has started on July 17.

For 29 days of the Israeli military operation, more than 1.8 thousand Palestinians were killed and another nine thousand were wounded in the Gaza Strip. Since July 17 64 Israeli soldiers and officers were killed in clashes and three civilians were killed in missile strikes on the Jewish state. Since July 8 Palestinian radicals have launched around 3.3 thousand missiles on Israel.


Israeli-Palestinian relations grew sour after June 12, 2014, when three Jewish teenagers were abducted in the West Bank. Later the teenagers were found killed. Israel accused militants of the Palestinian militant Islamist group Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement), which controls the Gaza Strip, of committing the crime.

The operation to search for the teenagers continued for more than two weeks and was accompanied by searches, arrests of Palestinian activists and shellings of the Palestinian territory.

On July 1, 2014, a 16-year-old resident of the East Jerusalem’s Palestinian Arab neighborhood of Shuafat was kidnapped and killed. Six ultra-right Jewish activists were arrested for the crime. The death of the Palestinian teenager caused riots among Palestinians.

On July 8, 2014, the Israel Defense Forces announced the start of the operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip against Hamas militants. The IDF made strikes on 50 targets in the Gaza Strip, most of which were launching platforms for rockets. Five Palestinians were killed and some 20 were wounded.

The immediate reason for the operation was that cities in southern Israel were massively shelled by Hamas military wing Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. According to the Israeli army’s press service, on July 7, some 90 missiles were fired on Israel from the Gaza Strip. As of early July, 450 missiles had been fired since the start of 2014.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the IDF to prepare for a possible ground operation. Israel announced mobilization of 1,500 reservists and sent two army brigades to the border with Gaza.

Since the start of their activity on December 14, 1987, Hamas militants set a course for liberation of Israel-occupied Palestinian territories. The group has made a few dozen terrorist attacks against military and civilian facilities of Israel.

Hamas regularly shells Israel’s territory with homemade rockets. In response, Israel shells Gaza and holds military operations there to suppress militant activity and destroy Hamas’ military structure. According to Hamas, 1,365 Israelis died in 1987-2011 in terrorist attacks made by its militants.

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