Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday defended his decision to agree to a ceasefire with Hamas in Gaza saying he wished to allow Israel's citizens to "return to their normal routine."
discussed his decision to agree to a cease-fire, ending Operation
Pillar of Defense after eight days, at a press conferece with Defense
Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman. The Egyptian
and US-brokered cease-fire went into effect at 9 p.m. as the three
Netanyahu stated that Operation Pillar of Defense
had successfully destroyed "thousands of Hamas rockets" and destroyed
the organization's command centers.
Netanyahu thanked US Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton for helping to secure the cease-fire agreement
in Egypt. He also voiced his gratitude to US President Barack Obama.
prime minister said that Obama showed "unwavering support for Israel's
right to defend itself." He added that the US and Israel would cooperate
going forward in halting the smuggling of weapons from Iran into the
Egypt announced that a cease-fire had been reached to end eight days of fighting between
Israel and the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip around 7 p.m. on
Wednesday, saying that the agreement would go into effect at 9 p.m.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr made the
announcement in a joint news conference with US Secretary of State
"These efforts ... have resulted in understandings to cease
fire and restore calm and halt the bloodshed that the last period has
seen," Amr said.
Israel has agreed to the truce, but will not lift
its blockade of Gaza as part of the deal, according to an Israeli official.
Netanyahu told US President Barack Obama on Wednesday he was
ready to give a cease-fire with Hamas a chance, his office said
in a statement.
spoke a short while ago with President Barack Obama and agreed to his
recommendation to give the Egyptian cease-fire proposal a chance, and in
this way provide an opportunity to stabilize the situation and calm it
before any more forceful action would be necessary," an Israeli
More than 140 Palestinians and five Israelis have been killed in the fighting that began last Wednesday.
The cease-fire was forged despite a bus bomb explosion that wounded 28 Israelis in Tel Aviv earlier in the day and despite more Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip.
After talks in Ramallah
with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Clinton held a
second meeting with Netanyahu before
traveling to Egypt for discussions with Morsi, whose country has led
In Tel Aviv, targeted by rockets from Gaza
that either did not hit the city or were shot down by Israel's Iron Dome
interceptor system, 28 people were wounded when a bus was blown up near
the Defense Ministry and military headquarters.
The blast, which police said was caused by a bomb placed on the vehicle, touched off celebratory gunfire in Gaza and had threatened to complicate truce efforts. It was the first serious bombing in Israel's commercial capital since 2006.
Gaza, Israel struck more than 100 targets, including a cluster of Hamas
government buildings, in attacks that medical officials said killed 10
people, among them a 2-year-old boy.
Medical officials in Gaza
said 146 Palestinians, more than half of them civilians, including 36
children, have been killed in Israel's offensive. Nearly 1,400 rockets
have been fired into Israel, killing four civilians and a soldier, the