After 29 days of hostilities and failed cease-fire attempts, Israel and Hamas agreed to an Egyptian brokered cease-fire which began at 8 a.m. Tuesday.
Indirect negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, who are joined by Hamas representatives, are expected to continue in Cairo in the next few days in order to reach a lasting end to hostilities.
The latest cease-fire is significant as it was negotiated without U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, whose attempt at a similar cease-fire late last week – put together with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon – was dashed within hours after Hamas terrorists used one of the remaining tunnels to kill three Israeli soldiers in Rafah.
Despite last-minute rockets from Hamas militants fired into Israel and airstrikes by the Israeli Defense Forces, the 72-hour cease-fire remains in effect at press time and Israel has completed its planned withdrawal of ground troops from the Gaza Strip.
In a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s office Tuesday, Netanyahu thanked the soldiers and commanders of the IDF and sent condolences to the families of the nearly 64 Israeli casualties.
“This was a complicated operation carried out by heroic soldiers under difficult combat conditions,” said Netanyahu in the statement.
“The operation struck at a strategic network that Hamas had invested great effort in over the years. These tunnels would have enabled Hamas to kidnap and murder civilians and IDF soldiers by launching simultaneous attacks from the many tunnels that penetrate our territory.”
NS.org contributed to this story.