The UN Security Council called on Israel and Hamas to uphold a ceasefire agreement on Wednesday and commended the efforts of Egypt's Islamist President Mohamed Morsi and others for brokering the deal.
The Egyptian-brokered truce that went into effect Wednesday night put an end to
the eight-day-old Operation Pillar of Defense, in which Gazan terrorists fired
thousands of rockets into Israel, including a few that struck near Jerusalem and
Tel Aviv. However, terrorists in Gaza fired 5 rockets into Israel since the announcement of the cease-fire, two of which were intercepted.
The 15-member UN council said in a statement that it "deplored the loss of civilian lives resulting from this situation and reiterated the need to take appropriate steps to ensure the safety and well-being of civilians and their protection in according with international humanitarian law."
"The members of the council called on the parties to uphold the agreement and to act seriously to implement its provisions in good faith," the council said. The members of the council strongly commend the efforts of Egyptian President Morsi and others to achieve the ceasefire."
It also praised the efforts of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who visited the region this week, and called on the international community to provide emergency aid, including food and medical supplies, for Palestinians in Gaza.
Hamas, which, according to the agreement, pledged to stop all
hostilities from Gaza against Israel, fired a massive volley of missiles into
Beersheba and the South up to the final minutes before the cease-fire was set to
go into effect, in an apparent effort to be able to claim victory.
IAF responded with attacks of its own inside the Gaza Strip.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, along with Defense
Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, announced the truce
to the country with a statement to the press about an hour after Egyptian
Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
announced the news in Cairo.
“I know that there are citizens who expect
an even harsher military action, and it is possible this might be necessary,”
“But right now, the right thing for the State of Israel
is to realize this opportunity for a prolonged cease-fire.”
who spoke even as Code Red rocket warning announcements were drowning out his
words when they were broadcast on Israel Radio, said Israel has since its
creation faced “complex challenges” in the Middle East, and these challenges
have only gotten more complicated in recent years.
conditions, we need to steer the ship of state responsibly and with wisdom and
must take into account numerous considerations, both military and diplomatic
ones. That is how a responsible government acts, and that is how we acted this
time as well. We employed military might along with diplomatic judgment,” the
prime minister explained.
The Egyptian announcement of the armistice
ended a day of frenetic diplomatic activity that began with a meeting between
Netanyahu and Clinton that started late Tuesday night and went past
Clinton then went to Ramallah for a meeting with Palestinian
Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, after which she returned for a second meeting
with Netanyahu. She then went to Cairo, where she met with Egyptian President
Mohamed Morsi before holding the press conference with Amr where the deal was
According to the unsigned agreement, Israel pledged to “stop
all hostilities in the Gaza Strip land, sea and air including incursions and
targeting of individuals.”
Hamas agreed that “all Palestinian factions
shall stop all hostilities from the Gaza Strip against Israel including rocket
attacks and all attacks along the border.”
According to the text of the
agreement, the first time Israel has committed to anything in writing with
Hamas, “opening the [Gaza] crossings and facilitating the movements of people
and transfer of goods and refraining from restricting residents’ free movements
and targeting residents in border areas and procedures of implementation shall
be dealt with after 24 hours from the start of the cease-fire.”
of the agreement gave Egypt a key role as “sponsor” of the understanding, saying
it “shall receive assurances from each party that the party commits to what was
agreed upon.” Morsi’s successful brokering of the deal is expected to raise his
stature in the region.
Liberman, who in the past has not spared Cairo his
criticism, said on Wednesday night that Morsi and Egypt deserved thanks for
their “responsible behavior” in solving the conflict. The US and Germany played
key roles in securing Morsi’s cooperation.
The agreement came hours after
a bomb tore through a bus in Tel Aviv – the first bus bombing since
Soon after the announcement in Egypt, Netanyahu issued a statement
saying he spoke with US President Barack Obama and “acceded to his
recommendation to give the Egyptian cease-fire proposal a chance and thereby
give an opportunity to stabilize and calm the situation before there is a need
to use greater force.”
The prime minister, during his statement to the
press, praised Obama for “unwavering support” for Israel’s actions during the
operation and for the country’s right to defend itself. He also thanked the
American president for his support in regards to the Iron Dome missile defense
“In my conversation this evening with President Obama, I agreed
with him that it was worth giving a chance to the cease-fire in order to calm
down the situation and allow Israeli citizens to return to their routine,” the
prime minister said.
With that, Netanyahu said, it was clear that Israel
could not sit with arms folded in the face of efforts by its enemies to arm
“Therefore I agreed with President Obama that we will work
together against the smuggling of weapons – the vast majority of which comes
from Iran – to the terrorist organizations.”
Barak said in his statement
to the press that the main goals of the operation were achieved: an end to the
rocket fire hammering the South, the reestablishment of Israel’s deterrence, and
the delivery of a significant blow to Hamas.
The White House, meanwhile,
issued a statement saying that Obama “reiterated his commitment to Israel’s
security,” and made clear that “no country can be expected to tolerate rocket
attacks against civilians.”
According to the statement, “the president
expressed his appreciation for the prime minister’s efforts to work with the new
Egyptian government to achieve a sustainable cease-fire and a more durable
solution to this problem.”
Obama also “commended” Netanyahu for agreeing
to the truce.
The statement said Obama would “use the opportunity offered
by a cease-fire to intensify efforts to help Israel address its security needs,
especially the issue of the smuggling of weapons and explosives into Gaza. The
president said that he was committed to seeking additional funding for Iron Dome
and other US-Israel missile defense programs.”
Obama also spoke with
Morsi and thanked him for his efforts and leadership. The statement said Obama
and Morsi “agreed on the importance of working toward a more durable solution to
the situation in Gaza.”
A previous version of this article stated that 20 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel on Wednesday night after the cease-fire came into effect. The IDF has since clarified that only five rockets were fired, two of which were intercepted.