Fragile truce deal hailed as a victory on both sides

Hillary Clinton praised the Egyptian President for showing leadership during the talks

Jerusalem

Hours after a bomb ripped through a bus in Tel Aviv, apparently sinking all hope of ending eight days of violence in Gaza, Hillary Clinton and Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr announced a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

The deal came into effect at 9pm local time following a frantic final day of diplomacy in which Ms Clinton shuttled between Jerusalem, Ramallah and Cairo to help seal the seal.

Around 18 rockets were fired in the first 90 minutes of the ceasefire, but hours later it appeared as if it was being observed by both sides. The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, had warned it might take some time to impose discipline on all the militant cells.

Diplomatic sources in Jerusalem indicated that an immediate truce, if it held, would be followed by a staged departure of some 60,000 Israeli troops deployed along the Gaza border, followed by a gradual lifting of the trade and passenger restrictions imposed by Israel on Gaza in return for the gradual disarming of militant groups in the Hamas-controlled enclave.

Details leaked to the Egyptian media said the ceasefire was a four-point plan under which Israel and the Palestinian groups both commit to cease all hostile activity in Gaza or around its borders, and Israel will lift border controls, easing restrictions on the movement of goods and people in and out of Gaza.

Both sides were quick to claim victory following the announcement. Mr Netanyahu said in a televised address that Palestinian militants "presumed that I would refrain from acting forcefully against them. They were wrong."

"In a conversation I had this evening with President Obama I agreed with him that it would be a good thing to give a ceasefire a chance in order to calm the situation and to enable the citizens of Israel to return the rhythm of their normal lives," he said.

Meanwhile, addressing reporters in Cairo, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal declared: "The Israeli conspiracy has failed. They wanted to conduct an election campaign and they wanted to test Egypt."

He added: "In 24 hours we will see how the ceasefire is going and then we will see how to fulfill the demands of the Palestinian people to end the killings and assassination and allow the Palestinian people to live like any other people."

Announcing the ceasefire in the Egyptian capital, Ms Clinton pointedly praised the "responsibility and leadership" of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, who played a key role in applying pressure to Hamas, just as Barack Obama brought all his weight to bear on Israel. Celebrations in the streets of Gaza followed the announcement, with many emerging from homes they had rarely left throughout a week of air attacks on the densely populated territory.

In Gaza City, the mood was one of relief. Ayman al-Assawi, 45, whose brother Rahem was one of those killed, said: "The main thing is for the fighting to stop." More than 150 Palestinians have been killed, 42 of them children; five Israelis have lost their lives.

Some in the Hamas hierarchy had argued that a ceasefire deal that failed to include an end the blockade of Gaza would mean that Israel can maintain a stranglehold on the Palestinian territory. But the head of Hamas's military, Mohammed Diaf, is said to have persuaded them that the deal on offer could not be bettered for the time being.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before