August 1, 2014 - 08:51 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Israel and Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza Strip have agreed to a three-day humanitarian truce to begin Friday, Aug 1 morning, and negotiators from both sides will travel to Cairo to discuss a longer-term solution, Reuters reported.
The 72-hour break after more than three weeks of fighting was set to begin at 8 a.m. (0500 GMT), according to a joint statement released by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
An official in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said Israel had accepted the U.S./UN proposal. A spokesman for Hamas, the Islamist group dominant in Gaza, said all Palestinian factions would abide by the truce.
"We urge all parties to act with restraint until this humanitarian ceasefire begins, and to fully abide by their commitments during the ceasefire," Kerry and Ban said. "This ceasefire is critical to giving innocent civilians a much-needed reprieve from violence."
According to the Kerry and Ban statement, forces on the ground would remain in place during the ceasefire.
Israel and Palestinian delegations in the meantime will travel to Cairo for separate negotiations to reach a more durable ceasefire, the statement said.
The Palestinian delegation will be comprised of Hamas, Western-backed Fatah, the Islamic Jihad militant group and a number of smaller factions, Palestinian officials said.
A senior U.S. State Department official said talks could start as early as Friday, depending on how long it takes the parties to reach Cairo. Representatives from Israel and the United States will not sit across the table from Hamas, the official added, according to Reuters.
Israel launched its offensive in Gaza on July 8 in response to a surge of cross-border rocket attacks.
Gaza officials say at least 1,427 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed in the battered territory and nearly 7,000 wounded. Fifty-six Israeli soldiers have been killed in the fighting and more than 400 wounded. Three civilians have been killed by Palestinian shelling in Israel.