Israel accepts Egypt ceasefire proposal: govt official

Jerusalem - Israel on Sunday accepted an Egyptian proposal for a 72-hour ceasefire in Gaza which will go into force within hours, government officials said.

"Israel has accepted the Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire," an official told AFP shortly after a Palestinian source confirmed accepting the initiative which would see both sides halt fire just after midnight (21:01 GMT).

"Israel has responded positively to an Egyptian proposal for a 72-hour ceasefire," another official said.

"Last time, Hamas broke another Egyptian proposed ceasefire by firing at Israel even before the 72 hours was up," he said.

He was referring to a three-day ceasefire which began on 5 August, bringing relief to millions but which Hamas refused to extend, firing rockets at Israel several hours before it formally expired at 05:00 GMT on Friday.

Earlier, a Palestinian official with the delegation in Cairo said Egypt had managed to secure agreement from both sides to hold their fire after more than a month of fighting which has killed close to 2 000 people, the vast majority in Gaza.

He said Egypt had received "simultaneous consensus" from both sides.

It was not immediately clear how the agreement was reached.

Israel's negotiating team was expected to travel to Cairo after the truce was up and running, an official said.

Egypt urged both sides to observe the new temporary lull.

"As the events continue to escalate in the Gaza Strip, and given the necessity to protect innocent blood, Egypt calls on both sides, Israelis and Palestinians, to commit to a 72-hour ceasefire effective Monday 00:01 Cairo time (21:01 GMT Sunday) ... and during this time work to reach a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire," a foreign ministry statement said.