Israel and Hamas agreed late last night to a ceasefire brokered by Egypt on the eighth day of intensive Israeli fire on the Gaza Strip and militant rocket attacks out of the enclave, Israeli, Palestinian, and Egyptian sources said.
Egyptian state TV earlier had a news conference at President Mohamed Mursi’s palace where US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the ceasefire alongside Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr.
Fears the process would be derailed by a bomb blast on a bus in Tel Aviv that injured at least 18 people, as well as continued Israeli air strikes, failed to materialise.
The blast shook up the Israeli public and drew immediate condemnation from world leaders, including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who called it “shocking”.
The White House labelled the strike a “terrorist attack,” and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States “stands ready to provide any assistance that Israel requires”.
US President Barack Obama praised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for agreeing to an Egypt-crafted cease-fire with Palestinian militants in Gaza.
Obama, speaking to Netanyahu by telephone, also underlined America’s unwavering support for Israel’s security and said he hoped to “intensify” US assistance.
“The president commended the prime minister for agreeing to the Egyptian ceasefire proposal — which the president recommended the prime minister do — while reiterating that Israel maintains the right to defend itself,” the White House said in a summary of the conversation.