Wednesday, November 21 2012, 01:12 PM MST
Cease-Fire Reached In Gaza Conflict
(CNN) After eight days of violence and nearly 150 deaths on both sides of the Israel-Gaza border, a cease-fire Wednesday promised to silence the warplanes and rocket launchers and restore a tense peace to the trouble region.
The cease-fire, announced Wednesday night in a joint news conference in Cairo with U.S.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr, took effect at 9 p.m. (2 p.m. ET).
The agreement to end the hostilities came after a day of intensive negotiations featuring Clinton, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy and Palestinian officials, and was a surprising cap to a day that saw militants strike deep inside Israel -- with a public bus bombing in Tel Aviv that injured 24 people, according to police.
Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said the agreement calls for "complete and total cessation of all hostile activity initiated in the Gaza Strip."
"For us, that's victory. That's what we wanted," he said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that additional military action could be needed if the cease-fire fails to lead to a long-term security solution.
"But at this time the right thing for the state of Israel is to exhaust this opportunity to obtain a long-term cease fire," he said.
Netanyahu said he agreed to U.S. President Barack Obama's suggestion to accept the cease-fire, and thanked Obama for his "unreserved support" of Israel's actions.
Israel launched the conflict eight days ago with a stated goal of ending the frequent rocket attacks on southern Israel from inside Gaza. Hamas officials have termed it a criminal expansion of Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory.
Israel will hold Hamas responsible for any attacks from Gaza, whether conducted by that organization or any others, Regev said. He said the agreement reflects that understanding.
Regev also said the deal calls for immediate talks on economic restrictions on Gaza.
"If the border is quiet, that enables us to be more forthcoming," he said. "The arrangements agreed with the Egyptians say we'll start talking from tomorrow about a process to work on those issues."
Clinton, who shuttled between Israel, the West Bank and Egypt to help negotiate the deal, said the United States will continue to work with regional partners to implement and expand the agreement.
"For it to hold, the rocket attacks must end, a broader calm return," she said.
Obama also spoke to Morsy Wednesday evening, thanking the Egyptian leader for his leadership in negotiating the cease-fire proposal.
As recently as Wednesday afternoon, Hamas officials were calling for more strikes against Israel, while that country's military continued to press its campaign against suspected rocket-launching sites and what it described as "terrorist hideouts."
Eleven people had died as of Wednesday night in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run al-Aqsa television station, bringing the total death toll in the Palestinian territory to 142 in eight days of fighting.
Five people died in Israel, and scores more were wounded -- including four soldiers injured Wednesday in a mortar attack in the Eshkol region, according to the IDF.
The cease-fire talks, held in the West Bank, Israel and Cairo, withstood the lunchtime bus attack near the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv. It was the first terror attack in that city since 2006, and the first assault on a bus in Israel since August 2011, when a man blew himself up near a bus near Eilat, killing the driver.
Terrorists planted at least two bombs on the bus and fled, Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. Only one of the bombs exploded, blowing out the windows of the bus but leaving the vehicle otherwise intact, he said.
Images on Israeli TV showed white smoke rising from the bus as police and witnesses milled outside. Police cordoned off the street. At least one passenger was taken out on a stretcher.
Rosenfeld said 24 people were wounded, three of them seriously. Aviva Shemer with Ichilov Hospital said pedestrians were among the injured.
One victim was in serious condition with shoulder injuries, while two others suffered moderate injuries from glass fragments. Some of those being treated suffered panic attacks, Shemer said.
Police said Wednesday evening they were seeking at least one and possibly two suspects.
Israeli authorities have stepped up security nationwide, with additional police on the streets and more plainclothes police officers patrolling public areas, Rosenfeld said.