Cease-Fire Reached in Israel-Hamas Conflict in Gaza
(CAIRO) — The rockets and missiles fell silent over Gaza for the first time in eight days Wednesday, but gunfire erupted in the crowded streets of the Palestinian enclave to celebrate the announcement of a ceasefire in the bloody conflict between Israel and Hamas.
The two sides fired final salvos at one another up until the final moments before the 2 p.m. ET cease-fire deadline. At least one Israeli missile landed at 1:57 p.m. ET in Gaza, and four rockets were launched toward the Israeli province of Beer Sheva at 1:59 p.m. ET.
After 2 p.m. ET, however, the sky was finally empty of munitions.
The eight days of fighting left 130 Palestinians and five Israelis dead, and badly damaged many of Gaza’s buildings. A bomb that exploded on a bus in Tel Aviv earlier Wednesday left an additional 10 Israelis wounded.
The fighting came to an end after a meeting between Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“This is a critical moment for the region,” Clinton said after the meeting, standing next to Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr to announce the deal.
“The people of this region deserve a chance to live free of fear and violence and today’s agreement is a step” in that direction, Clinton said. “Now we have to focus on reaching a durable outcome.”
Clinton said that Egypt and the U.S. would help support the peace process going forward.
“Ultimately every step must move us toward a comprehensive peace for people of the region,” she said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed the cease-fire from Tel Aviv after Clinton’s announcement.
“I agree that that it was a good idea to give an opportunity to the cease-fire… in order to enable Israeli citizens to return to their day to day lives,” Netanyahu said.
He reiterated that it was vital to Israel’s security to “prevent smuggling of arms to terrorist organizations” in the future.
An Israeli official told ABC News that the ceasefire would mean a “quiet for quiet” deal, in which both sides stop shooting and “wait and see what happens.”
“Who knows if the ceasefire will even last two minutes,” the official said. The official said that any possible agreement on borders and blockades on the Gaza/Israel border would come only after a period of quiet.
Clinton and Morsi met for three hours in Cairo Wednesday to discuss an end to the violence. The secretary of state met with Netanyahu Tuesday night for more than two hours, saying she sought to “de-escalate the situation in Gaza.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio