Gaza conflict: Israel and Hamas agree to 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire

Israel and Hamas have agreed to a 72-hour pause in their three-week conflict, the United States and the United Nations announced, allowing for both sides to begin talks on a longer-term ceasefire.

The truce will begin at 8am on Friday, local time, after which delegations from Israel and Palestine will convene in Cairo for negotiations to be mediated by the Egyptian government.

In a joint statement, UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon and US secretary of state John Kerry said the ceasefire would give “innocent civilians a much-needed reprieve from violence”. The pause would allow Gaza’s civilians to “bury the dead, care for the injured, and restock food supplies”, they said. Repairs would also be made to water and power infrastructure damaged in the 24 days of conflict, which has killed 1,400 Palestinians, mostly civilians.

However, “forces on the ground will remain in place”, meaning Israel had succeeded in its insistence that its troops continue to search for and destroy Hamas tunnels during any humanitarian pause…