Egypt Announces Cease-Fire Between Israel and Hamas

(Video Still Credit: Egyptian State Television)U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (left) and Egypt Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr speak during a press conference in Cairo to announce a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas on November 11, 2012.

Egypt's foreign minister announced a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas on Wednesday that will be effective evening.

Ecumenical leaders involved in long-term efforts to bring peace to the region have been closely monitoring the situation, calling for an end to the violence which has claimed the lives of at least 161 Gazans and five Israelis according to Reuters.

Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr said the truce would take place at 9 p.m. local time with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton standing alongside him, the Associated Press reported.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in Jerusalem, confirmed the deal, saying he agreed to it after consulting with U.S. President Barack Obama, the report states. Earlier, a report by Reuters cited a Palestinian official saying Egypt would make the announcement.

Israel has been bombing targets in the Gaza strip for eight days in response to ongoing rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel.
The ceasefire has Egyptian "guarantees," an Egyptian source close to the truce talks says.

Israeli sources told Reuters that Israel had agreed to the truce but would not lift its blockade of the Palestinian territory, which is run by the Islamist Hamas movement.

Earlier on Wednesday, the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church issued a statement condemning the use of violence in the region and asked for prayers for a just peace in the Holy Land. The church agency's view is in line with that of the United Methodist General Conference and the World Methodist Council resolution on Israel and Palestine.

Thomas Kemper, the head of Global Ministries who oversaw the opening of the Methodist Liaison Office in Jerusalem, had urged compromise.

"Hamas must recognize the right of Israel to exist within secure borders. Likewise Israel must stop building illegal settlements in Palestinian territory. Sending rockets into Israel is as unacceptable as bombing Gaza," he said.

He also commented on the recent conflict.

"This is another example that violence only begets more violence and will not lead to a lasting peace. When I was in Israel and Palestine, I saw for myself that maintaining the status quo is not a solution. I am grateful for our partners and missionaries who are supporting peace-building efforts. They provide valuable perspectives of the situation from the ground."

Last week, as violence raged, Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches denounced the rocket attacks from Gaza, saying they were "reprehensible and never justifiable" but also called for an immediate end to hostilities on both sides while touching on longer term humanitarian concerns.

He restated the organization's view that the six-year blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip by Israel should end, saying there is an "unbearable humanitarian situation" facing the population in the Gaza strip.

He added that Israel is accountable for the safety of all civilians in Gaza by international humanitarian law since it controls Gaza by land air and sea.

Rev. Tveit said the rocket attacks "might also have very negative effects at a time when Palestinians are seeking international support of, and recognition by, the international community for a future viable and contiguous state."

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