BREAKING: GAZA CEASEFIRE AGREED IN CAIRO
A man read a document on the grounds of the Hamas complex. (photo: Wissam Nassar/The New York
he Egyptian foreign minister has announced that a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip will come into effect at 19:00 GMT on Wednesday.
Mohamed Kamel Amr thanked all parties involved in brokering the truce as he made the announcement in a joint news conference with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.
Israeli sources said Israel had agreed to the truce but would not lift its blockade on the Palestinian territory.
Meanwhile, Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip continued for an eighth day, as diplomatic efforts were under way to secure a ceasefire.
At least a dozen people were killed in Gaza on Wednesday, according to medical officials, bringing the death toll to a total of 150 since Israel's military operation was launched. A two-year-old boy and a four-year-old girl were among those killed.
Israel said it struck more than 100 targets, including a cluster of Hamas government buildings.
Clinton and UN chief Ban Ki-moon, who both met Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi on Wednesday, have been shuttling between Egypt, Israel and the occupied West Bank in a bid to bolster a proposed ceasefire agreement that Cairo brokered between Israel and the Hamas movement that controls the Gaza Strip.
Clinton arrived earlier in the day from Israel where she held a second round of talks on Wednesday with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu after travelling to the West Bank city of Ramallah for a meeting with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader.
In their talks, Clinton thanked Abbas for encouraging a restoration of calm and expressed "heartfelt concern for innocent lives lost" on both sides, Victoria Nuland, spokesperson for the state department, said.
"The secretary indicated that we were working to support ongoing efforts to defuse the crisis, especially Egyptian-Israeli conversations," Nuland said in a statement issued in Washington.
Five Israelis have been killed by rockets fired from Gaza since November 14. Israel says it launched its offensive on Gaza to prevent fighters from firing missiles into its territory.
Palestinians fighters fired more than 30 rockets at Israel on Wednesday, causing no casualties, and the anti-missile system, the so-called Iron Dome, shot down 14 of them, police said.
During her meeting with Netanyahu, Clinton praised Morsi's "personal leadership and Egypt's efforts thus far" to end the Gaza conflict and promote regional stability.
"As a regional leader and neighbour, Egypt has the opportunity and responsibility to continue playing a crucial and constructive role in this process," she said, pledging to work for a truce "in the days ahead".
Netanyahu told Clinton he wanted a "long-term" solution, warning that if this failed, he would step up the military campaign to silence Hamas' rockets.
Nearly 1,400 rockets have been fired into Israel since the military offensive began, according to the Israeli military. Israel has carried out more than 1,500 strikes on Gaza during the same time period.