Gaza Ceasefire Holds, But Long-Term Plan Still Needed

(terrasanta) A ceasefire ending the 50-day Gaza conflict that left 2,145 Palestinians and some 70 Israelis dead went into effect at 7pm (16:00 GMT) local time on Tuesday.

While many leaders have expressed backing for the truce, they are also voicing the need for actions to secure long-lasting peace.

Brokered by Egypt, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasized that the ceasefire should act as “prelude to a political process”, which is the “only way of achieving durable peace.”

Ban called on both parties “to return to meaningful negotiations” aimed at reaching a lasting agreement for Palestinian that would address “all core issues and end the 47-year occupation.”

The United States Secretary of State John Kerry also expressed support for the deal but warned that it was just the beginning.

“We strongly support today’s ceasefire agreement, and call on all parties to fully and completely comply with its terms,” Kerry said in a statement. “We are approaching the next phase with our eyes wide open. We are all aware that this is an opportunity, not a certainty,” Kerry added.

Hamas is calling the truce a victory and tens of thousands took to the streets of Gaza on Tuesday night to celebrate the end of the conflict.

“We have achieved most of our goals and targets,” a Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum told media.

Gaza Strip’s border crossings have now been opened and humanitarian aid is flowing in, while the naval blockade has been reduced from three to six miles.

Talks on the number of complex issues, such as Hamas’ demand to build an airport and a seaport, will begin in a month, sources said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who wished to squash Hamas through military action, made no immediate comment on the deal.

No reports of violence have been reported since the ceasefire began, said the Israeli army in a statement on Wednesday.