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Trust was in short supply. The exile leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, said his Islamist movement would respect the truce if Israel did, but would respond to any violations. “If Israel complies, we are compliant. If it does not comply, our hands are on the trigger,” he told a news conference in Cairo.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had agreed to “exhaust this opportunity for an extended truce”, but told his people a tougher approach might be required in the future.
Facing a national election in two months, he swiftly came under fire from opposition politicians who rallied to his side during the fighting but now contend he emerged from the conflict with no real gains for Israel.
“You don’t settle with terrorism, you defeat it. And unfortunately, a decisive victory has not been achieved and we did not recharge our deterrence,” Shaul Mofaz, leader of the main opposition Kadima party, wrote on his Facebook page.
If the truce holds, it will give the 1.7 million Gazans respite from days of air strikes and halt rocket salvoes from militants that have unnerved a million people in southern Israel and reached Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for the first time.
Both sides quickly began offering differing interpretations of the ceasefire, which highlighted the many actual or potential areas of discord.
According to a text of the agreement seen by Reuters, both sides should halt all hostilities, with Israel desisting from incursions and targeting of individuals, while all Palestinian factions should cease rocket fire and cross-border attacks.
The deal also provides for easing Israeli restrictions on Gaza’s residents, who live in what British Prime Minister David Cameron has called an “open prison”.
The text said procedures for implementing this would be “dealt with after 24 hours from the start of the ceasefire”.