Israel has officially agreed to abide by a ceasefire with the Palestinian militant group Hamas that governs the Gaza Strip. As well as a 6-month suspension of hostilities, the agreement allows for the partial re-opening of Gaza’s borders. Until now, Israel has deliberately restricted the delivery of essential supplies in a bid, it says, to end militant rocket attacks.
Hamas officials say they are confident all militant groups will adhere to the truce, due to come into force on Thursday. Israeli officials approved the deal following the return of a delegation from Cairo, where mediation talks had taken place.
But mutual distrust remains. “I think this ceasefire is a deception,” says a man from the Israeli border town of Sderot, “it will reinforce the militants’ position and it is so fragile it could collapse any minute.”
On the streets of Gaza, there is also scepticism. “Israel asked for the truce in order to fulfill its own selfish aims and nothing else,” one man says, “as for us, we definitely need more stability but if there is a truce it should serve first and foremost the Palestinian interest and no other.”
Hamas seized control of Gaza a year ago, driving out Fatah forces loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The move prompted international efforts to isolate the Islamist militant group, which refuses to renounce armed struggle or recognise Israel’s existence.