Israel, Hamas agree to Gaza ceasefire

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the ceasefire in Gaza had come at a crucial time.

US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Picture: Regan Thaw/EWN

CAIRO - Egypt announced on Wednesday that a ceasefire had been reached to end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, starting later in the day.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr made the announcement in a joint news conference with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The ceasefire would come into effect at 1900 GMT, said Amr, whose country has been at the heart of efforts to broker an end to the conflict.

"Egypt has made great efforts ... since the start of the latest escalation in the Gaza Strip," Amr said.

"These efforts and contacts have resulted in understandings to cease fire and restore calm and halt the bloodshed that the last period has seen," he added.

"Egypt calls on all to monitor the implementation of what has been agreed under Egypt's sponsorship and to guarantee the commitment of all the parties to what has been agreed," he said.

TRUCE COMES AT 'CRUCIAL TIME'

Clinton said on Wednesday the ceasefire had come at a crucial time for countries of the Middle East.

"This is a critical moment for the region. Egypt's new government is assuming the responsibility and leadership that has long made this country a cornerstone for regional stability and peace," she said at a joint news conference with Amr.

She also thanked Egypt's Islamist President Mohamed Mursi for his mediation efforts and pledged to work with partners in the region "to consolidate this progress, improve conditions for the people of Gaza, provide security for the people of Israel".