Update as of 3:35 a.m. EDT: Israel has withdrawn its ground troops from the Gaza Strip as part of the 72-hour cease-fire agreement with Hamas, which went into effect at 8 a.m. local time (1 a.m. EDT), reports said Tuesday, citing the Israeli military.
Israel will withdraw all its ground forces from the Gaza Strip before the beginning of a 72-hour Egypt-mediated ceasefire with Hamas on Tuesday, according to media reports.
Israeli troops would be “redeployed in defensive positions outside the Gaza Strip and we will maintain those defensive positions,” Israel Defense Forces, or IDF, spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner told reporters just minutes before the cease-fire was slated to begin at 8:00 a.m. local time (1:00 a.m. EDT).
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From 8:00 AM today we will implement a 72-hour cease-fire. During this time, we will maintain defensive positions near the Gaza border.
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) August 5, 2014
Israel and Hamas had, on Monday evening, agreed to an Egyptian proposal to temporarily halt the nearly month-long fighting in Gaza, which has killed over 1,800 Palestinians and 67 Israelis.
Israel began winding down its operations on Monday, following the destruction of Hamas “terror tunnels,” this would be the first time since July 17 -- when Israel deployed ground troops in Gaza -- that Israel has signaled an end to its offensive.
Both the United Nations and the United States welcomed the temporary cessation of hostilities, and urged Hamas and Israel to work toward a more permanent and lasting solution.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed hope that both the parties would “commence, as soon as possible, talks in Cairo on a durable ceasefire and the underlying issues.”
Osama Hamdan, a senior Hamas leader, also told Al Jazeera that there would be “indirect negotiations” between the Palestinian and Israeli delegations in Cairo during the cease-fire.