Ceasefire in Gaza
A long-term ceasefire has come into effect in Gaza following talks between Israel and the Palestinians in Cairo.
Egyptian officials said the deal called for an indefinite halt to hostilities, the immediate opening of Gaza's blockaded crossings with Israel and Egypt, and a widening of the territory's fishing zone in the Mediterranean.
A senior official of the Islamist group Hamas, which runs Gaza, voiced willingness for the security forces of Western-backed Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and the unity government he formed in June to control the passage points.
Mr Abbas said the agreement should be seen as a step forward in the peace process.
"I would like to announce that the Palestinian Authority accepted the Egyptian initiative to agree to a permanent ceasefire in Gaza and we hope that this will be the beginning of the ending of the suffering of our people and allowing the much needed aid to enter," he said.
Conditions of the Gaza ceasefire
- Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza agree to halt all rocket and mortar fire into Israel.
- Israel will stop all military action including air strikes and ground operations.
- Israel agrees to open more of its border crossings with Gaza to allow the easier flow of goods, including humanitarian aid and reconstruction equipment, into the coastal enclave.
In a separate, bilateral agreement, Egypt will agree to open its 14km border with Gaza at Rafah.
Both Israel and Egypt view Hamas as a security threat and sought guarantees that weapons would not enter the territory of 1.8 million people.
Under a second stage of the truce that would begin a month later, Israel and the Palestinians would discuss the construction of a Gaza sea port and Israel's release of Hamas prisoners in the occupied West Bank, the officials said.
A statement issued by a spokesman for prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel had accepted the Egyptian proposal for "an open-ended ceasefire" and would attend Cairo talks on Gaza's future only if there was a "total end to terror attacks" from the enclave.
"I think that first of all let's hope that this ceasefire holds ... we've had a whole series of ceasefires that unfortunately were violated by Hamas and we hope that this one does hold - that's good for the people of Gaza and good for the people of Israel," spokesman Mark Regev said.
Minutes before the Egyptian-brokered truce began, a rocket fired by Palestinian militants killed one person in an Israeli kibbutz near the Gaza border, police said.
The United States said it gave full backing to the ceasefire, and UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said it would set the stage for talks on a final Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. However Mr Ban's spokesman warned Israel and Palestinian militants that any violations of the truce would be "utterly irresponsible".
The Realities of Eternity
The bible talks about places like Heaven and Hell, which are very real places. Some folk deny their existence, but too many people testify of visiting them. I have!
In this trilogy of accounts, let me share some things with you tha include my visits to Heaven, a 45 minute visit to Hell and the story of my own son Gary who "died twice" and is now with the Lord.
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Psalm 91 is a wonderful depiction of God's promises of protection and blessing.
See our pictorial illustration of Psalm 91 and Psalm For Kids...
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Daily Psalm מִזְמוֹר & Proverb מִשְלֵי
O LORD, I give my life to you.
I trust in you, my God! Do not let me be disgraced, or let my enemies rejoice in my defeat.
No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced, but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others. Psalm 25:1-3
Daily Prescription רָפָא
And he departed and began to publicly proclaim in Decapolis [the region of the ten cities] how much Jesus had done for him, and all the people were astonished and marveled.
And when Jesus had recrossed in the boat to the other side, a great throng gathered about Him, and He was at the lakeshore. Then one of the rulers of the synagogue came up, Jairus by name; and seeing Him, he prostrated himself at His feet And begged Him earnestly, saying, My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay Your hands on her, so that she may be healed and live.
And Jesus went with him; and a great crowd kept following Him and pressed Him from all sides [so as almost to suffocate Him].
And there was a woman who had had a flow of blood for twelve years, And who had endured much suffering under [the hands of] many physicians and had spent all that she had, and was no better but instead grew worse.
She had heard the reports concerning Jesus, and she came up behind Him in the throng and touched His garment, For she kept saying, If I only touch His garments, I shall be restored to health.
And immediately her flow of blood was dried up at the source, and [suddenly] she felt in her body that she was healed of her [distressing] ailment.
And Jesus, recognizing in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth, turned around immediately in the crowd and said, Who touched My clothes?
And the disciples kept saying to Him, You see the crowd pressing hard around You from all sides, and You ask, Who touched Me?
Still He kept looking around to see her who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had been done for her, though alarmed and frightened and trembling, fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth.
And He said to her, Daughter, your faith (your trust and confidence in Me, springing from faith in God) has restored you to health. Go in (into) peace and be continually healed and freed from your [distressing bodily] disease. Mark 5:20-34
Peace comes at a heavy price. The conflict has taken a heavy toll in the Gaza Strip. Palestinian health officials say 2,139 people, most of them civilians, including more than 490 children, were killed since July 8, when Israel launched an offensive with the declared aim of ending the rocket salvoes. Sixty-four Israeli soldiers and five civilians in Israel were killed. Thousands of homes in Gaza were destroyed or damaged in the most prolonged Israeli-Palestinian fighting since a 2000-05 Palestinian uprising.
"We have mixed feelings. We are in pain for the losses but we are also proud we fought this war alone and we were not broken," said Gaza teacher Ahmed Awf, 55, as he held his two-year-old son in his arms and joined in the street festivities.
Despite Israeli bombardments from sea and air and an offensive that included a ground invasion, Hamas was able to keep up cross-border rocket salvoes that reached Israel's heartland, the commercial capital Tel Aviv. Many of the rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights said 540,000 people had been displaced in the territory.
Israel has said Hamas bears responsibility for civilian casualties because it operates among non-combatants. Israel says the group uses schools and mosques to store weapons and as launch sites for rockets.
In the run-up to the ceasefire, Israel increased pressure on militants to end persistent rocket strikes, bombing more of Gaza's tallest structures in attacks that toppled a 13-storey apartment and office tower and destroyed most of a 16-floor residential building. Israel, which said it was targeting Hamas control and command centres, had warned occupants to leave and no deaths were reported.