TIME Middle East

72-Hour Cease-Fire Announced in Gaza

Mideast Israel Palestinians
Amidst the morning fog, smoke from an Israeli strike rises over Gaza City on July 26, 2014 Lefteris Pitarakis—AP

The unconditional cease-fire will allow both sides to negotiate while victims are buried and the injured receive aid

The U.S. and U.N. announced Thursday that Israel and Hamas have agreed to a 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire, which will begin Friday morning at 8 a.m. local time.

The U.S. and U.N. said in a joint statement that both sides have agreed to suspend fighting in Gaza while they engaged in negotiations in Cairo.

“During this time the forces on the ground will remain in place,” said the announcement released jointly by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Israeli troops that have entered Gaza will remain there.

“This cease-fire is critical to giving innocent civilians a much-needed reprieve from violence,” the statement reads. “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.”

More than 1,400 Palestinians and dozens of Israelis have died since the strikes began earlier this month.

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