The United States and United Nations together have announced a 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire in the ongoing conflict in Gaza that will go into effect Friday morning. Most importantly, per a joint statment, the U.S. and U.N. say they have "assurances that all parties have agreed to an unconditional humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza."
Since the conflict began on July 8, cease-fire talks have come in fits and starts. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as recently as Thursday said he would not accept a cease-fire proposal that would thwart Israel's mission to destroy Palestinian group Hamas's tunnel network. "We are determined to continue to complete this mission with or without a cease-fire," he said in public remarks.
Below is the full statement from Kerry and Ban, released Thursday afternoon:
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.