‘Secret’ negotiations between Israel and Hamas—with mediation from Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations— produced an agreement that came into effect this week after months of intermittent conflict between the two sides. Israeli daily Haaretz reports that the deal includes six clauses that will be implemented in steps provided the cease-fire holds. These include reopening Gaza-Israel border crossings; humanitarian assistance; port access; reconstruction of Gazan infrastructure; a prisoner exchange; and expansion of the permitted fishing zone.

Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, have declined to comment on the deal. The first stage, which came into effect 15 August, saw the reopening of the Kerem Shalom land crossing and will include plans for expansion of Gaza’s fishing zone. If the deal can hold, it will provide a substantial boost to Gaza’s besieged economy, which is characterized by the world’s highest unemployment rate (27.9% in 2017), daily power cuts (MEES, 30 March) and crippling goods shortages. But hostilities are never far from resumption. (CONTINUED - 162 WORDS)