Is a Ceasefire in Gaza Near? Reports of Agreement to End Fighting Emerge as Bombardment of Gaza Continues

Israel and armed Palestinian groups may have agreed to stop fighting and could sign a ceasefire agreement tonight, media outlets are reporting. The agreement is reportedly set to be announced at 9 PM and take effect at midnight Gaza time, according to Reuters--though anything can happen between now and then. CNN has reported that Israel has not yet agreed to a ceasefire, though talks are ongoing. The television outlet is also reporting that Israel wants 24 hours of “calm” before they agree to a full cease-fire.

The terms of the agreement have not been officially released, and if past truces are any indication, they may not be. But Al Jazeera English is reporting on the terms of the ceasefire. The news outlet reports that three conditions have been announced by Hamas, Islamic Jihad  and an Egyptian government representative. They include a halt to rocket fire from Palestinian groups, the ceasing of Israeli assassinations of Palestinians and an easing of the Gaza border crossings.

Earlier today, Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi said that “Israeli aggression” against Gaza would end today. “The efforts to conclude a truce between the Palestinian and Israeli sides will produce positive results in the next few hours,” he vowed.

It’s important to note, though, that the last time a ceasefire agreement was reached, Israel used the last hours of fighting to wreak havoc on Lebanon during their war with Hezbollah. In 2006, “the overwhelming use of cluster munitions took place during the final 72 hours of the conflict, when Israel engaged in saturation cluster bombing, hitting more than 850 strike sites with millions of submunitions,” according to Human Rights Watch. These attacks “occurred after the UN Security Council had adopted Resolution 1701 on August 11 calling for an immediate ceasefire, but before the Lebanese and Israeli cabinets met individually to set the time for the formal ceasefire to take effect on August 14. At that time, Israel knew a settlement was likely to be imminent.”

The reports of a ceasefire came as Israel continued to bombard the Gaza Strip. Over the past week, Israeli air strikes have pummelled the Gaza Strip, killing 105 people and wounding hundreds more. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights’ latest update reports that 70 civilians have been killed over the past week. 3 Israelis have been killed by rocket fire.

Israel today reportedly killed two journalists working for Al Aqsa TV, the Hamas-owned outlet. This comes after Israeli air strikes hit a media building in Gaza City twice over the past few days, wounding journalists and killing an Islamic Jihad leader. The Israeli military also dropped leaflets over Gaza, warning Palestinians to flee their homes.

Meanwhile, rockets hit the Israeli city of Rishon Letzion today. One woman was wounded in the attack, according to Haaretz.

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