Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr announce a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in Cairo.(Photo: AP)
JERUSALEM -- A cease-fire between Israel and Hamas was announced on
Wednesday after days of bloody fighting and deaths on both sides.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Egyptian Foreign Minister
Mohamed Amr said the cease-fire will be effective at 2 p.m. ET.
announcement came after furious negotiations between diplomats
including Clinton who has been in Cairo for talks with Egyptian
president Mohammed Morsi, who has been acting as a mediator between the
"The people of this region deserve the chance to live
in peace," Clinton said at the press conference with Amr announcing the
She called it a "critical moment" for the region.
new government is assuming responsibility and leadership that has long
made it a cornerstone of regional stability and peace," Clinton said.
Clinton said that for the cease-fire to hold, "the rocket attacks must end and a broader calm must return."
is no substitute for a just and lasting peace," Clinton said. "Now that
there is a cease-fire, I am looking forward to working with the foreign
minister and others to move this process."
President Obama spoke
by phone Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,
thanking him for agreeing to the cease-fire and reaffirming the U.S.
commitment to Israel's security.
"The President made clear that no
country can be expected to tolerate rocket attacks against civilians,"
the White House said."The President expressed his appreciation for the
Prime Minister's efforts to work with the new Egyptian government to
achieve a sustainable ceasefire and a more durable solution to this
The announcement came on a day when a bomb ripped
through an Israeli bus near the nation's military headquarters in Tel
Aviv wounding at least 27 people.
For a cease-fire to hold, Hamas
must to enforce any ceasefire on all factions in Gaza, said retired
Israeli Brig. Gen. Mike Herzog, who is now an analyst at the Washington
Institute for Near East Policy.
Hamas "seems to be reluctant to force it on others but they'll have to make a choice," he said.
it is clear that Israel "seriously degraded" Hamas' capabilities, the
Palestinian faction designated a terrorist organization by the State
Department is still a threat, Herzog says.
Israeli jets and drones
have succeeded in destroying weapons caches, smuggling tunnels, weapons
manufacturing plants and command and control structures, Herzog said.
But Hamas still has "a sizaeable arsenal and still can continue to
function," he said.
"To really root them out, Israel would have to go into Gaza" with ground troops, he said.
lot of Hamas' infrastructure and rocket launchers are inside civilian
areas, which poses a challenge to Israel in minimizing Palestinian
civilian casualties, he said.
While the details of the cease-fire
are still unclear, the agreement is likely to include a sweetener, such
as opening up the border with Egypt, which make Hamas "literally the new
king of Gaza," said Aaron David Miller, a former U.S. adviser on
Arab-Israeli negotiations to Republican and Democratic secretaries of
state and now vice president of the Woodrow Wilson Center, a Washington
If the opening is meaningful, Hamas "will have
significant leverage" over smaller rival militant groups that are likely
to attempt to spoil the deal with further attacks on Israel, Miller
On the streets of Jerusalem reaction to the cease-fire was mixed.
Israeli government looks weak in the eyes of the world, in the eyes of
the Arab street and worst of all in the eyes of their own citizens who
have been facing missile attacks day in and day out since Israel pulled
out of Gaza," said Joshua Halickman of Jerusalem.
Fern Reiss, an
American currently living in Jerusalem, said "As we go into
Thanksgiving, with millions of Israelis in the south still eating dinner
in their bomb shelter -- but with the promise of a ceasefire on the
horizon -- I am truly thankful for everything we have."
Talker, a resident from Kibbutz Reim near the Gaza border who spoke by
phone from Ra'anana, where she has taken refuge from the rockets since
last Friday, said before she will return home with her two children,
"I'll have to see whether the ceasefire is real. I'll take it day by
day. We have no personal bomb shelters and had to sleep in the
"If the ceasefire holds for just a while, it's not enough," Talker said.
Fighting between Israel and Hamas has raged on both sides of the border even as negotiations continued.
released a statement when she arrived in Cairo saying "I am closely
monitoring reports from Tel Aviv, and we will stay in close contact with
Prime Minister Netanyahu's team," Clinton said. "The United States
stands ready to provide any assistance that Israel requires."
Clinton met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Tuesday night.
bus exploded about noon on one of the coastal city's busiest arteries,
near the Tel Aviv museum and across from an entrance to the Kirya,
Israel's national defense headquarters.
The bus was charred and blackened, its side windows blown out and its glass scattered on the asphalt.
Israeli driver who witnessed the explosion told Army Radio the bus was
"completely charred inside." Another witness said there were few
passengers on the bus when it exploded.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said authorities were investigating
whether the bomb had been planted and left on the bus or whether it was
the work of a suicide bomber.
Israeli aircraft pounded Gaza with at least 30 strikes overnight,
hitting government ministries, smuggling tunnels, a banker's empty villa
and a Hamas-linked media office located two floors above the office of
the French news agency, Agence France-Presse.
A Haaretz-Dialogue poll found that 84% of Jewish and Arab Israelis
expressed support for the latest bombing operation, called Operation
Pillar of Defense. But only 30% said they would support an all-out
ground operation into Gaza.
Israel's usually vocal political
left-wing has largely refrained from criticizing the prime minister's
decision against a cease fire at a time when half the Israeli population
is living under the threat of Palestinian rocket fire.
Ofran, spokesperson for Peace Now, a group promoting territorial
compromise, called Wednesday's bus bombing "a brutal attack that
horrifies every Israeli." She said Israel's precarious security
situation "reinforces the urgent need for an agreement" resulting in "a
two state solution."
Gerald Steinberg, a political scientist at
Bar Ilan University, predicted Netanyahu will be able to maintain the
military operation until "the (Israeli) casualties start to increase and
people start questioning the benefits."