Kerry announces 72-hour ceasefire in Gaza

A displaced Palestinian boy looks out from a makeshift tent at the al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City on July 31, 2014. Israel and Hamas have agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire in the Gaza conflict, US Secretary of State John Kerry said early on Friday. -- PH
A displaced Palestinian boy looks out from a makeshift tent at the al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City on July 31, 2014. Israel and Hamas have agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire in the Gaza conflict, US Secretary of State John Kerry said early on Friday. -- PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI (AFP) - Israel and Hamas have agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire in the Gaza conflict, US Secretary of State John Kerry said early on Friday.

Kerry said that the two sides would begin the truce at 8 am local time (0500 GMT, 1pm Singapore time) and that Israelis and Palestinians would enter talks in Cairo.

"This ceasefire is critical to giving innocent civilians a much-needed reprieve from violence," Kerry said in a hastily arranged mid-morning statement on a visit to New Delhi.

"During this period, civilians in Gaza will receive urgently needed humanitarian relief, and the opportunity to carry out vital functions, including burying the dead, taking care of the injured, and restocking food supplies," he said.

"Overdue repairs on essential water and energy infrastructure could also continue during this period," he said.

Kerry said he was announcing the truce jointly with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, who has also invested intense efforts in brokering an end to the bloody conflict.