With the death toll rising in Gaza after more than three weeks of fighting, on Thursday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Secretary of State John Kerry announced an unconditional 72-hour cease-fire beginning on Friday morning at 8 a.m. local time in Gaza. “In a joint statement, the U.S. and U.N. said they had gotten assurances that all parties to the conflict had agreed to an unconditional cease-fire during which there would be negotiations on a more durable truce,” the Associated Press reports.
The announcement comes, Reuters reports, as “the Pentagon called on Israel on Thursday to do more to protect civilian life during its military operations in Gaza, saying the conflict was taking too high a toll on civilians.” Meanwhile, the Financial Times reports, “the White House raised the international pressure on Israel on Thursday to change its tactics in the Gaza conflict when it condemned the shelling of a UN facility in Gaza by the Israeli military as ‘totally indefensible.’’”
According to Gaza’s health ministry, since the beginning of the Israeli offensive, 1,422 Palestinians have been killed, most of them civilians, and a quarter of the population of Gaza have been forced from their homes, the BBC reports. Fifty-eight Israelis, including two civilians, have been killed.
“During [the cease-fire] the forces on the ground will remain in place,” John Kerry and Ban Ki-moon said in a joint statement.