The United States and United Nations have jointly announced a break in the fighting between Israel and Hamas, beginning at 8 a.m. local time on Friday and lasting at least 72 hours. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement that they have "received assurances that all parties have agreed to an unconditional humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza," although Israeli "forces on the ground will remain in place."
"This ceasefire is critical to giving innocent civilians a much-needed reprieve from violence," says the statement, which is here in full:
Joint Statement on the Humanitarian Ceasefire Announcement in Gaza
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and United States Secretary of State John Kerry announce that the United Nations Representative in Jerusalem, Special Coordinator Robert Serry, has received assurances that all parties have agreed to an unconditional humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.
This humanitarian ceasefire will commence at 8 am local time on Friday, August 1, 2014. It will last for a period of 72 hours unless extended.
During this time the forces on the ground will remain in place.
We urge all parties to act with restraint until this humanitarian ceasefire begins, and to fully abide by their commitments during the ceasefire.
This ceasefire is critical to giving innocent civilians a much-needed reprieve from violence. During this period, civilians in Gaza will receive urgently needed humanitarian relief, and the opportunity to carry out vital functions, including burying the dead, taking care of the injured, and restocking food supplies. Overdue repairs on essential water and energy infrastructure could also continue during this period.
Israeli and Palestinian delegations will immediately be going to Cairo for negotiations with the Government of Egypt, at the invitation of Egypt, aimed at reaching a durable ceasefire. The parties will be able to raise all issues of concern in these negotiations.
We thank key regional stakeholders for their vital support of this process, and count on a continued collaborative international effort to assist Egypt and the parties reach a durable ceasefire as soon as possible.
More than 1,400 people have been killed in Gaza so far, including at least 300 children.