A 72-hour ceasefire in the Gaza Strip is set to begin at midnight Monday morning, after Palestinian factions and Israeli authorities agreed to hold fire while negotiators work on terms for a longer truce.In the hours leading up to the ceasefire, however, Israeli forces continue to pound the Gaza Strip with airstrikes, killing 4, including a child, on Sunday evening. At least 25 bombs were dropped by Israeli forces on Gaza on Sunday, and 60 on Saturday.
In a previous 72-hour truce, which lasted from August 5th to 8th, Israeli negotiators left the Egyptian meeting where a longer term truce was being discussed, saying that they would not agree to the Palestinian demands.
The Palestinian factions, led by the Hamas party, have called for an end to the eight-year siege on Gaza, the opening of a port in Gaza, the release of several hundred prisoners who have been re-arrested by Israel since June, after having been released in 2011.
In addition, the Palestinians have requested a way to be able to travel to the West Bank, which is currently completely severed from the Gaza Strip due to Israeli control of the passage, borders and travel between the two Palestinian Occupied Territories.
The head of the Palestinian delegation in Egypt, Azzam Ahmed, said that unless Israeli representatives return to the negotiating table without pre-conditions, they will leave Cairo as well. If Palestinian delegates leave Cairo, it would set the stage for a continued war in Gaza, where over 1900 people have been killed by Israeli forces over the last month.
Israeli officials, for their part, have said that they will ‘not take part in negotiations while violence is ongoing’, despite the fact that they have initiated the violence in every instance.
Khaled al-Batsch of the Islamic Jihad said his movement said to the Egyptians that his party is fully committed to the truce as long as Israel does not violate it.
Mousa Abu Marzouq of Hamas said the movement accepted the Egyptian invitation and proposal to extend the truce for 72 hours – as long as Israeli does not violate it.
During these 72 hours, extensive talks will be held in an attempt to reach a permanent ceasefire agreement.
According to Ma’an News, aid supplies will be allowed into Gaza during this 72-hour ceasefire.