JERUSALEM (JTA) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called on Israel and the Palestinians to “fully and completely” comply with the terms of their latest cease-fire.
Kerry issued a statement Tuesday evening after the open-ended truce went into effect at 7 p.m. Israel time.
Meanwhile, a second man who was critically injured in a mortar attack from Gaza on the Eshkol Region shortly before the start of the cease-fire died of his injuries. Some 182 rockets were fired at Israel on Tuesday before the cease-fire.
In his statement, Kerry said, “We hope very much that this cease-fire will prove to be durable and sustainable, that it will put an end to rocket and mortar attacks, and that it will help to bring about an enduring end to the conflict in Gaza.”
Kerry called for the acceleration of humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza.
He commended the Egyptians “for their role in hosting the negotiations in Cairo and for continuing to work to reach agreement on a cease-fire.”
According to reports, the open-ended cease-fire would see the immediate opening of border crossings from Gaza into Israel and Egypt, and the expansion of Gaza’s fishing zone. The second phase would begin in a month, with discussion of the construction of a Gaza seaport and the Israeli release of Hamas prisoners.
The sides have agreed to numerous cease-fires since Israel launched its military operation in Gaza early last month to stop rocket fire from the coastal strip.
Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank flooded the streets and gunmen fired into the air to celebrate the cease-fire agreement; Hamas claimed victory. Several senior Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders surfaced in public shortly after the start of the cease-fire for the first time since the start of Israel’s Gaza operation about seven weeks ago.
Six civilians in Israel, including one foreign worker, and 64 soldiers were killed in the operation known as Protective Edge. The Palestinian death toll stood at least 2,127, the Palestinian Health Ministry told an Israeli television station.